The process of ukulobola, to pay the bride price in brief, is a critical stage in which the symbolic and material gestures of the coming together of these two families is realised. Often, a great deal of pomp, ceremony and robust negotiations accompany this custom.
Historically the lobolo ritual predates colonialism, ‘the Europeans who codified Zulu law and the missionaries, regarded lobolo as being in the nature of a business transactio in which a fixed price had to be arrived at,’ so argues social anthropologist Absalom Vilakazi in his celebrated book on aspects of Zulu culture and tradtions, Zulu Transformations. It is in the context of this particular historical moment in Natal that saw then governor Sir Theophilus Shepstone uSomtsewu as Zulus called him, impose a figure of 11 cattle as a standard.
- Ubikibiki – This cow is given to the mother by umkhwenyana.
- Ubhaqa – The cow given to the umakoti’s father in order to light the way.
- Umqholiso/Ingquthu – The cow given to the mother of umakoti.
- Umumba – Cow also given to the Makoti’s mother, but part of the ilobolo
- Imvulamlomo/Ingqaqhamazinyo – cow given to the father in order for him to talk to the abakhongi (people sent to pay lobola)
- Imvula –the cow that gets mentioned first before even paying the ilobolo.
- Inhlabisamthimba – the cow that gets slaughtered on the wedding day
- Isibhoma – cow that also get slaughtered on the wedding day.
- Ibheka – additional cow.
- Assuming that a woman is getting married for the first time, her lobolo rites often comprise sending a delegation from the future bridegroom’s party who start a process towards paying all 11 cattle to the future bride’s family.
- Izibizo zikamama or her mother’s customary dues are paid as part of the lobolo process.
- Before she is allowed to join her new family, a special cow called udondolo is offered.
- She is then anointed with sacrificial bile to mark her new family status, more so that she is now no more a member of her original family.
- Should she divorce or her husband die, for her second marriage lobolo is not required.
- Instead, a token is given to her outgoing in-laws.
- Since traditionally Zulu and other African societies frowned the idea of a divorce, the widow or a divorced woman can be paid whatever that can be negotiated by the two parties without the involvement of her direct parents as she no longer belongs there.
- Thereafter either a goat or a cow is slaughtered to mark her new family status. 9As is the case in many cultures, in the final analysis, the failure or success of any marriage mainly depends on the two people who have entered matrimony.
- In conclusion, although various pressures and influences of modernity and socio-economic conditions have brought both distortions and innovation to the lobolo custom, in general, the practice still constitutes the most preferred, revered and recognized way of cementing the bond.
WHY LOBOLO IS PROBLEMATIC TODAY?
Lobolo is a problem in our era because we do not have people who have a clear know-how of what it is, and why was it or is it still being practiced. Lobolo, has more value that just a mere practice.
ILOBOLO – the slaughtering of livestock
Some people say they do not need paying lobolo because they have been together for a long period. Also other people do not want to pay lobolo out of fear that they’ll break up. What makes those marriages not to last is because of certain slaughtering which were never fulfilled. We must understand that, the marriage between two people in an African Culture, is not marriage unless is blessed by the amathongo.
1. Ilongwe – slaughtered after accepting the cattle
2. Ukucola abakhwenyana – slaughtered for abakhongi as sign of acceptance
3. Imvuma – slaughtered to accept umkhnwenyana It must be understood that these processes differ today from place to place.
It must be understood that these processes differ today from place to place. But even though, it is these goats’ inyongo which connects umkhnwenyana and amathongo, also umakoti and amathongo. During the wedding other cows get slaughtered where their izinyongo are used to connect
Prof V.V.O Mkhize is the President and founder of Umsamo institute http://Umsamo.org.za For those who would like to know more about isintu umshado nelobola – can purchase my book Umsamo Nezibi Zezala. We sell it ourselves for R150 at our offices in Bedfordview. JHB and esigodlweni Sethu in Pietermaritzburg”