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Lobola: is a century-old tradition, still common throughout Africa. This system requires that a price be paid for the right to marry women. This practice is still used extensively in contemporary African society and has raised both critical and supportive voices. Lobola is an age-old African custom that is as alive today as it was 100 years ago. Both the families of the bride and groom would be scandalized if they did not adhere to this custom. On the surface, Lobola is a complex and very formal process of negotiation between the two families to come to a mutual agreement of the price that the groom has to pay in order to marry the bride. This may seem like a purchase and a sale, but this custom is the very opposite of a commercial transaction. What makes Lobola so important for marriage is that it is based on a process that brings the two families together. Mutual respect and dignity are woven into the process, and the love between the man and woman is expanded to include the immediate and extended families. But, like all traditional customs, it is open to abuse and distortion in the modern world. The Lobola process is often complicated and sometimes confusing for the modern couple. The process if very

translated form the Xhosa. Often negotiations are not conducted by the parents of the prospective groom at all.formal and has certain protocols that have to be adhered to. Great ceremony and dignity is involved when the negotiating "teams" from the families meet. all negotiation between the parents must be conducted in writing and not by telephone or by a quick visit. but can be conduced via relatives. usually uncles of the groom. which. this indicates a relaxation of tension and an acceptance of the quests. The formal tension between the two parties involved in the negotiations is often broken by a bottle of brandy placed on a table. For example. The reason for this is that the extended family is an important element in African culture and especially in the institution of marriage. The reason for this seemingly absurd rule is that although the families might have known each other for years. There is a modern variation to this theme though. although the two families concerned might have lived next to each other for years. The negotiations can take up to two days and the talk will usually revolve the number of cattle to be paid as the Bride-price. Most often it is not cattle that are being talked about but rather money. means the mouth-opener. In other words. Cattle are symbolic and represent certain amounts of money. . This gesture is known as mvulamlomo. they do not know each other at the the level of the seriousness and sanctity of marriage The arrangements for the meeting between the families involve endless formalities. Even though the bottle may not actually be opened. they do not know each other on the level of the Lobola exchange.

there are many instances when families use Lobola to acquire money to pay their debt. The money received by the bride's family is used to help the young bride set up house. Lobola is also a gesture of gratitude on the part of groom's family for looking after and bringing up the young bride. and more importantly. there are other rules that have to be followed before the actual wedding . Many people do not realize that there is no sense of personal enrichment in Lobola. The young couple are usually forbidden from meeting until the actual wedding ceremony . a feeling of community. However. Worse still. some men see women as "goods" that have been paid for. The purpose of all this fuss and decorum is to create a feeling of trust and mutual understanding at a deep level between the two families. There is one documented case of an unhappy wife who could not obtain a divorce from her husband because the family could . The modern usage of Lobola does not always have a happy outcome. the negotiations are formally over.Once the bride price or Lobalo is established. This creates a marital climate that is not conducive to trust and love. however.

There is even a reported relationship between the Lobola custom and the spread of HIV/AIDS. It remains a custom that is still popular because it promotes harmony between the married couples and their families. South Africa has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world. as well as promoting a sense of dignity and support that can aid the marriage and promote a harmonious union. Done by: Ahmad Ibrahim Ghurbi Grade: 11/A .not pay back the Lobola price. these are aberrations and do not detract from the essence of Lobola itself. which in turn can be transmitted to the wife. However. the husband often feels free to acquire mistresses and hence increases the possibility of infection. and some claim that this high rate is partly due to the custom of Lobola. The custom is seen as a monetary transaction and the wife as a bought object.