Lobola is an old tradition that has been practised for many years. I have never been part of lobola negotiations, but what I know is that the prospective groom’s family meets with the prospective bride’s family and they agree on a price that will be paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s family. Lobola is paid before there is an actual white wedding, your husband’s family will never consider you part of their family if they haven’t paid lobola. I have always thought that the whole aim of lobola was to bring two families together and build a relationship. But these days, I think, our families take lobola as a way of making money, lobola has become some sort of business for our families.
You will even hear girls proudly saying ‘The man that will marry me will pay a minimum of R60 000 because I am expensive.’ I think that is a very sad statement, how can you match yourself up to an amount of money. Women, we are very valuable and no amount of money can be worth our value. Let’s not devalue ourselves by believing that some amount of money is enough for us. Our mothers and fathers, I believe, need to stop setting high prices like we are for sale, because after the lobola has been paid we will want big weddings, big houses, and nice furniture. I think this is part of the reason why most guys don’t finish paying their lobola quickly. Sometimes it takes the guys about 5-6 years to finish paying the lobola and, honestly, we can’t blame them because besides having to pay the lobola, they have many other things that need their financial attention.
I was not going to allow my aunt milk my future husband’s family dry because of her greed. Where was my fiancé going to get R250 000, 00? This man was a Pastor, not some rich business man. He is not poor but I don’t think he is rich either. Generally Pastors aren’t rich, yes they aren’t poor but they aren’t rich. They just manage to live an average life-style, and I don’t think my fiancé is any different. Honestly speaking, unlike Philani, I didn’t know how financially stable my fiancé was. He had nice cars and lived in an expensive suburb, but I doubt that he was rich. My biggest worry was where was he going to get the money to lobola me? From tithes or offering? I don’t think so.
“Aunt R250 000, 00 is too much, you are not sealing a business deal but establishing a relationship between the two families. Why should it be so expensive?” I angrily asked.
My aunt chuckled, then said “If your boyfriend can’t afford R 250 000, 00 then he doesn’t deserve you. He should pay us for giving you an education and raising you into the woman you are today.”
According to my aunt, parents should be paid for raising their daughters and I think that is absolute madness. If you are my parent, it is your duty to educate, clothe and feed me, no one in the world should reward you for that. When you have spent alot of money and time to raise your children, which is good because you were doing it for your daughter. Another thing I don’t understand is that the lobola price goes higher when a woman is educated. Alot of people believe it should be higher because the husband will benefit from the woman’s education, but women also benefit from their educated husbands. So this is a two way street but you don’t see us paying men for being educated.
“Aunt you never raised or educated me,” I said, “If there is anyone who needs to be paid for raising and educating me, then we need to go and raise my sister and mother from the dead. You have done nothing good with my growing up, in fact none of you here showed any concern about my well being after my mom passed away. If it weren’t for my sister, I don’t know how I was going to survive.” I paused, trying to stop the tears that were threatening my eyes, and then I continued
“You can’t decide who deserves me or not, whether he can afford it or not doesn’t matter to me. I am not going to allow you to destroy my happiness.”
I was lying when I said I don’t care whether he can afford the R250 000, 00 or not because I did care. My aunt’s ridiculous request made me wonder about his financial stance. I have said it before and I will say it again, I don’t want to marry a poor man. I am too beautiful to be married to a poor man, it wouldn’t look good for a beautiful woman to be married to a poor man. I had to find out what was going on in his finances before I say ‘I DO’.
The meeting with my family elders went on and on, then it was decided that the lobola will be reduced to R75 000, which I think is still too much but I agreed with their price. I also told them that the lobola money would go to my account, which angered my aunt
“Hlengiwe I am standing for your mother and the money must come to me, that is how things are done. We will not be controlled by a child, your lobola will come to me.”
“You are mad, Hlengiwe’s lobola money must come to me because I will be heading the lobola and I will be in charge of buying goats when we have to perform an ancestral ceremony to inform the ancestors about Hlengiwe’s lobola.” said my uncle in a very loud tone.
They both argued for a while and I realised how they only wanted to be part of my lobola negotiations because they wanted the money for their own selfish reasons, but I wasn’t going to feed their selfishness
When their argument intensified, I intervened “The Lobola money will come to my bank account or there won’t be any lobola at all. I don’t mind getting married without the lobola being paid. Uncle with all due respect, there is no need for any ceremonies to be performed.”
“What? Hlengiwe don’t make me angry ne”, my uncle said, “you are a black child and our ancestors must know what is going on in your life. This white Jesus of yours is driving you crazy, now you think you are better than us. You need our ancestors on your side.”
I responded by saying “Uncle I am not trying to disrespecting you or your beliefs in any way. This is my wedding and we will do things that I am comfortable with, and I expect you to respect that, so we will do things my way. My whole life, you have told me that Zulu is not my rightful surname and that I should find my father’s family because ‘the Zulu ancestors don’t recognise me as one of their own.’ Now will they recognise me just because I am getting married? You have excluded me in all your family ceremonies all my life, and you want to include now? I think it is a bit too late now and I don’t believe in what you believe in anyway and as you always said, I am not a Zulu.”
My uncle didn’t know what to say, so he just nodded. My uncle was always quick to remind me and my sister that we don’t belong to the Zulu family, and that we need to find our fathers, so I was not going to allow the Zulu family to control me. When the meeting was done, I called my fiancé, and told him that I want to see him, so he said I must come to his house. I need to stop calling him my fiancé, so for now we will call him Apostle Bae J. Yeah I think Apostle Bae is a fitting nickname for now, I will find another name for him once we are married.
So I drove to Apostle Bae’s home and found him making lunch for us, it was very cute seeing him behind the stove. As soon as I walked in, he came and gave me the warmest hug, then he went back to the stove. I sat on one of the stools in the kitchen and watched him cook, looking at him was pleasurable because my man was yummy. He is the type of guy you would want to eat up all day every day, he is just too sexy.
“I told my family about us, and they want R250 000, 00 for lobola.” I said as soon as we sat down to have lunch. I know my family reduced the price, but I just wanted to see his reaction, maybe his reaction was going to let me know if he is rich, poor or average.
“Why do they want so much?” he asked, and then I responded
“They said if you can’t afford the requested amount, which means you don’t deserve me.”
He chuckled a bit and said “Okay baby, the money is too much because it is only lobola but I will pay it. Even if they asked for a million I would pay it.”
I know he was lying but what he said was cute, very cute and it made me blush.
“So how did Philani have to say about our engagement?”
“Well,” I said, “he seemed very angry and sad but he didn’t do or say anything to me. After I told him, he asked me a few questions then drove away. Don’t get me wrong baby, I love you but I still care about Philani. I feel really bad for him because this is a huge betrayal to him. I was his woman for a long time, and you are a man he has trusted and respected, so he didn’t expect this form us. Can we please try to not rub our engagement in his face? We should try to stay away from him until he gets used to this.”
Apostle Bae agreed with me and he promised to stay away from Philani because he didn’t want to make matters. We decided that we were going to have an engagement party, so later that day we went to the mall, so that I could buy something nice to wear, Apostle Bae said he only wears tailor-made suits. I went to different stores, but I couldn’t find anything ‘suitable’, so my love decided that I should go to a designer, and my dress made.
While we were walking out, we heard someone say
“Here is the bitch that jumps from one man to the next. It is true when they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You have messed with the wrong person wena Hlengiwe!!!!!!!!!!!”