#Pay back the lobola

#Pay back the lobola

It’s no surprise that society is riddled with double standards! The are certain cultural norms that make no sense in today’s time like for example paying lobola. Or even perhaps buying a wedding ring. It is interesting to note that certain societal norms (that I could argue are demeaning to women) are still set aside. Surely, lobola and a wedding ring can be seen as reducing women to be property that can be bartered and sold?

If these archaic nuptial rituals are to be kept in place because of the romance of it all, then surely what is good for the goose must also be good for the gander? I too would like to get Lobola’d and better yet I wouldn’t mind a 4 carat diamond ring too! Ok, am not so sure about the ring but I would not say no to a 4 carat diamond equivalent gift.

If that is not feasible, surely at the very least I should be able get both the lobola and the ring back upon a divorce. Does this make me cheap!? Possibly.

Ironically, I have since been proposed to twice! At a different time and place I would have said yes to both ladies. As awkward as it was to say no to people I cared for immensely, I had to be honest with myself as well as them. I was not in the right place to consider a long term relationship. I was still trying to figure out who I now was. Truth be told, I am still old school in that sense. I do think there are still roles that a man should play. I think the man should still ask the lady out and when both are ready, he should propose. Why?! I don’t know. Perhaps it’s merely a preference. Now that I think about it, who pays the lobola if the woman proposes?Being single is a double edged sword. You get to value your space. Worse, you get used to it. On the other hand it can be lonely. So you end up going out more often.

I met this lady, let’s call call her Loofah, on one such excursions. We went out for drinks and she seemed really cool. In fact she was really cool, until on day two I found her Loofah, in my bathroom. I was like who travels with a Loofah? I didn’t even know it was called Loofah till I met her. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I couldn’t find my toothbrush past her Clinique exfoliator, toner, serum, night cream, hand cream, ear buds, cotton wool, mouth wash…I was like WTF?! What ever happened to the walk of shame?! Now people do the stay of shame, and it seems they come prepared for it too.

Last week I took down what I thought was a good blog about gender relations. I took down the dating Mary Jane blog because a women complained about it. She stated that the blog took women back 100 years. In the hour it had been up it was already trending to be the fastest read blog. Of all the people who had read it by then, almost all loved it, all but the one lady. This lady felt that my blog’s sentiment was regressive to women empowerment and she suggested I take it down. I took the blog down, much to the dismay of all the people who had already read it and had forwarded it on. In fact, I was then inundated by people demanding the blog be put back up and that I was a coward for cowering to one readers view.

I had a difficulty dealing with this matter as a pro freedom of speech person. My blog is an outlet to write things that I believe should be discussed openly. I write things that I stand by. I also write to encourage conversation from different points of views. As I took down the blog I felt censored and bullied. But, be that as it may, I have always understood that many freedom comes with great responsibility. I run a business and the last thing I ever want to see is my restaurant being boycotted because of a view I might have. This whole experience demonstrated to me the reason why corporates never speak out on social ills. Their moral and civic duty is trumped by their fiduciary duty to shareholders. They, like I ,prioritize profits.

So am I a hypocrite? I write these blogs to have a voice and yet when it came to standing up for my voice I stood down instead.

I have not blogged in the last week, I have been reflecting on this incident and this question.

I have come to this conclusion;

Women, particularly black women have it tough everywhere you go in the world. I forwarded a video on Saturday that showed a line of people about to run a race. The commentator told people to take two steps forward if they were raised by both parents, then it said to take two steps forward if you never had to assist your parent with the bills. It went on to ask more questions. It highlighted white privilege just by asking a series of questions. It showed white people starting ahead in the race of life just because they were born white.

If you were to do this exact exercise with males and females I am willing to bet you would find the same privilege gap benefiting men over women. This video trended over the weekend. I believe it did so because we all know privilege exists but no one had shown it such simple and irrefutable terms. As a male I am privileged, there is no doubting it. Whilst I stand by what I said in my blog, it was said from a privileged male point of view. And it was just that, a view, albeit a view from the privileged front.

What brought this home for me was the amount of responses from women who share their stories in response to my blogs.

Whilst they love my dating shenanigans with Bloem Haka and Optimus Prime, they often tell me the reverse side of the stories.

In response to my dating Mary Jane blog; one lady shared a personal story. She told me that her then fiancé left her when she was four months pregnant and a week before their wedding. He then whilst overseas, withdrew all the money in her bank account. There are many many such stories and even worse. When one hears these stories, one immediately understands that privilege makes you oblivious to fact that you are privileged.

There is a lady who was acquitted this week after she stabbed a guy who she found raping her daughter . I don’t know what it feels like to constantly fear that you might be raped. That’s privilege. That’s one less thing I have to fear.

Because of this privilege and many many others, it is therefore imperative that I do pay Lobola and buy the ring. It is not because I am bartering for ownership but instead, it is small gesture of atonement. Perhaps that’s not the right word, but lobola or a ring should be a sign of understanding.

I should never get the ring back nor the lobola back. I am privileged to have known you.

To the Mary Janes, the Optimus Primes and the Bloem Hakas, you will all be happy to hear this is my last blog.

Thank you all for reading.

2 Comments
  • Lebogang Modise
    Posted at 16:26h, 10 October Reply

    I have but 1 sentiment. I think it is high time the lobola policy gets reviewed. Whilst we may want to sustain if not uphold what sets us apart from other ‘races’ as a black community I am sure most men would agree with my cry. More times than not, the price value towards umakoti is set by uncles that have probably failed in attaining that one goal that parents typically have for their daughters. The day that the street will be blocked from both ends as they celebrate the life long awaited event. I think the exorbitant pricing arises from that bitterness and therefore tarnishes the poor niece’s attempt to be happily wedded.

    To all uncles out there, please please stop thumb sucking figures that are unreasonable. Talk to your nieces and find out a bit more about the new umkhonyana so that the process is seamless, justified and does not affect the future of these 2 people.

    The offering is a pure gesture and lets treat it as such. My apologies if I’m sounding too personal peeps.

  • Les
    Posted at 15:39h, 17 January Reply

    Merged/Lobola is not “bride price” as it has often been alluded to, but a right of passage every man should go through. No boy is going to marry a daughter of mine. An African studies guy once described it as a “womb rental fee’… Don’t know about that…

    What needs to be looked at is how the limits are set. Every culture has its cultural reasons why they charge what they charge. For instance, I discovered that amaXhosa put that money right back into the wedding “gifts” or amabhaso! These are the furniture items Makoti takes to her new home. In my seTswana Culture, it is generally so cheap as to be a “free” transfer’. What we really want to see is whether Mr. has his head screwed on correctly, and can fend. Yes the argument is that woman are often fenders of their family’s in this day and age, but even still an man must show that initiative.

    Lobola should never be paid back. End of story.

Post A Comment