According to African traditions in the Southern African region of the continent, before a man can marry an African woman, he must pay lobola. This is a traditional practice that is meant to be be a way to foster good relations between families.
It is also a way of thanking the bride’s family for raising her well. A number of factors are taken into consideration when calculating the “bride price”.
Lobola starts the process of marriage.
Paying lobola shows commitment on the part of the bridegroom. It shouldn’t be reduced to just another financial transaction, but rather as a way of building relations between the two families.
It is also meant to show the bride’s family that the groom will be able to provide for their child.
In the past, lobola was paid in cows. As lifestyles have become more urbanised, families have switched to cash instead.
Understanding how much you should pay for lobola starts with having a clear understanding of the significance of the practice, so that you and your family don’t lose track of what’s important.
Keep in mind that lobola negotiations are usually steered by the bride’s family. So your delegation should be good listeners and skilled at the art of negotiation.
A value is set for each cow. That amount is multiplied by the number of cows the new bride is deemed to be worth.
If the bride-to-be has children out of wedlock, the number of cows diminishes in some cases.
Education is a factor that is also taken onto consideration during the negotiation process.A well-educated bride is likely to have a higher lobola amount.
As a groom, you will not be present during the lobola negotiations. You will rely on your delegation to repesent you and your wishes. These representatives should ideally have your best interests at heart and shouldn’t allow greed to cloud their judgement.
Each culture has its own processes, so it’s important that you keep this in mind. For instance, marrying a royal is likely to cost you a higher number of cows. Lobola amounts may also be based on the province from which the bride hails.
Marrying a Zulu woman is likely to cost your 10 or more cows. In the Northern Cape on the other hand, the average rate is 5 cows.
The most important factor when trying to understand how much you should pay for lobola is affordability. You should take this big step once you are financially ready.
Most families in South Africa expect the payment to be made once instead of in installments.
You need to be prepared to make the payment in cash or in the form of actual livestock, as some modern families still value cattle as a sign of wealth.