African customs: lobola

Lobola is an ancient African custom that remains as alive today as it was more than 100 years ago. Both the bride and groom’s family are scandalized if this custom is not carried out. Lobola is a complex formal negotiation process between the two families. The two families must agree on the price that the groom has to pay in order to marry the bride. This is a "simple" business transaction.

The important thing about the process is that it is able to reunite the two families. Mutual respect and dignity are at the center of the process. The love between men and women was what prevailed in the past, today they can incur abuses and distortions that can affect the negotiation.

The process is very formal and has some protocols that must be followed, for example, although the two families have been neighbors for years, the negotiation between all the parents must be done in writing and not over the phone or through a quick conversation. The arrangements for the reunion between the families involve endless paperwork.

Negotiations are often carried out by the groom’s parents, but may be carried out through other relatives such as the groom’s uncles. The formal tension between the two parties involved must be interrupted by a bottle of brandy on the table. Although the bottle cannot be opened, this indicates a relaxation of tension and acceptance of the proposals. Negotiations can last days .