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Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It’s Taboo To Marry in November

“…what I do have a problem with are the individuals who now treat lobola as a cash scheme; this is evident in many child-bride situations, where family members (typically the male leaders) see female children as a source of income.”

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Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It's Taboo To Marry in November Asante Afrika Magazine
Beautiful Bride - IG @Rora_kay during her traditional wedding ceremony #Malawi. Outfit by IG @terrymade.designs. Photography by Mr. Details.
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Hazel Lifa

Over the past years, a lot of controversy has been raised over the African custom of paying bride price when a man marries a woman. This custom can be found in a vast number of African countries and tribes from the Ndebele, Zulu and Xhosa who call it Lobolo/Lobola, to the Shona who call it Roora, to the Arabs who also demand bride price for their daughters. In short, a lot of cultures practice this tradition. Its popularity points to its significance, as this practice dates back as far as the Iron Age. During this period, the bride price could be a hoe, which in those times was a very important tool that introduced farming. 

I disagree with statements like, “Lobola payment is a patriarchal system that puts men above us…”

According to writer, Kundai Marunya, “…centuries later, cattle became a viable means of payment, because again, most tillage was done using ox-drawn ploughs.”  This shows us a pattern, a tone if you will; bride price was linked to genuine development, rather than the get rich quick schemes it has been turned into today. 

Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It's Taboo To Marry in November Asante Afrika Magazine

Self-proclaimed traditionalist, Sekuru Conrad Muunze stated, “Our ancestors had very good reasons, and that is why lobola was done in stages, with different amounts charged on different items. They wanted their son-in-law to appreciate the process of bringing up a child… and in the process, have ample time to judge characters of the family their child is marrying into.” 

The modern way of overcharging and seeing the bride price as a way of getting free money is a clear indication of the decay of culture and its abuse. As a young African woman who also identifies as an African feminist, I have been asked where I stand on the issue. My support of this culture left many confused; my understanding of lobola is that it is not only a way of fostering relations, but a token of appreciation from the groom’s family to the bride’s.

Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It's Taboo To Marry in November Asante Afrika Magazine
Beautiful Bride – IG @Rora_kay, during her traditional wedding ceremony, #Malawi.
Outfit by IG @terrymade.designs. Photography by Mr. Details.

In the bible it states, “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). Which is true, but also in essence, I will be becoming a part of my future husband’s family, and growing that family specifically. The bride price is appreciating the wife’s family for raising her, and in some cases, educating one’s wife; when you think about it, all that has been invested in me will be enjoyed by my husband’s family and him. The process in itself is introducing the two families and cementing those ties, and how the negotiations go sets the tone for future interactions. 

According to founding member of the South African Men Forum and Gender Activist, Mbuyiselo Botha, “Lobola has nothing to do with buying, no one is being bought. Lobola has a particular cultural significance… people should look at lobola in its purest form, which is making sure families come together without being misconstrued” 

I feel the feminist argument brought up by today’s interpretation of bride price is a bit misguided; yes, patriarchy exists, and this culture was fostered under its structures, but do not penalise the culture of bride price for the manipulation of its intent by men who are given this power by patriarchy.  As an African feminist, what I do have a problem with are the individuals who now treat lobola as a cash scheme; this is evident in many child-bride situations, where family members (typically the male leaders) see female children as a source of income. 

Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It's Taboo To Marry in November Asante Afrika Magazine
Lobola Negotiation Ceremony. Image Source – https://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/trailers/backstory-bride-price/

In these situations, the families usually aren’t interested in vetting their in-laws, or making sure their daughter is safe, leaving the door open to a mountain of issues where the girl child is denied education and is subjected to abuse of all kinds. It is usually the orphaned or abandoned girl child who runs the risk of experiencing such. 

I disagree with statements like, “Lobola payment is a patriarchal system that puts men above us. It’s time to change that, let it go, and let a new era where both sexes begin their marriage and live on equal footing” by Nyarai Mashaya. It makes bride price seem like it’s about garnishing power over the other, which is an implied nuance based on misogynist ethics found in the structures of patriarchy. 

It is sad to say, but some families overcharge in order to discourage suitors and control who their daughters marry; some try to discourage unions by refusing to participate. Others are just difficult and make this otherwise joyful time dreadful by manipulating the tradition.  But these realities aren’t a highlight of lobola’s problem, but human intent. These days, women are now contributing to their own bride price; Zimbabwean socialite Olinda Chapel was reported to have given her spouse at the time, Stunner, the money to pay for her bride price.  

Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It's Taboo To Marry in November Asante Afrika Magazine
Olinda Chapel and her ex-husband, Stunner. Image Source – https://youthvillage.co.zw/

A definite bold move that, yes, might have been made because of logical and sound reasons – I have no quarrel with that. However, I do see this possibly having lasting negative consequences which will probably rear their ugly heads in the light of friction/fighting. This move is usually seen as an act of desperation, and some say will affect the respect a man will have for his wife. 

I am not saying women shouldn’t help out their spouses in such situations, but I am saying, be vigilant and weigh your own personal relationship, because it goes either way – really, really well, or very, very bad! At the end of the day, it’s all about preference; while I for one am for lobola (within its intended purpose), someone else isn’t. Someone else would have no problem paying for her own lobola, others do!

While on the topic of marriage and tradition, Zimbabwe is home to a traditional belief that no wedding or lobola negotiations should take place during the month of November. In some parts of Zimbabwe, the month is said to be so sacred that no traditional activities take place, with the exception of funerals, during this time. One might say this sounds like an old wives tale, but in reality, it is odd to hear of a wedding taking place in November in some parts of Zimbabwe. According to an article by Desire Ncube, it is claimed that during the month, everything with links to the spiritual and ancestors temporarily ceases to function.

Zimbabwe’s late Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, is one individual who disregarded this tradition back in 2011 when he married his second wife, businesswoman Locadia Tembo. The late PM found himself in hot water when he was summoned to appear before a traditional court by Chief Negomo of Cheweshe, located in the province of Mashonaland Central. 

Bride Price In The Modern Age, & Why Some Zimbabweans Say It's Taboo To Marry in November Asante Afrika Magazine
The late Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with his ex-wife, Locadia Tembo.

For his transgressions in the Chief’s jurisdiction, the late Prime Minister was fined two cows, two sheep, and ten meters of white fabric by the court. Locadia was also fined two cows, two sheep, and a goat for her part in the matter. We are living in the modern age, but traditions are still highly regarded. It all comes down to a balance, if I may say, between the two, unlike the call for extermination of either side. Our past guides us and our future shapes us further, whether we like it or not – and to fully serve us, a balance is necessary of each side. 

Connect with Hazel:

Instagram: @word_smith96

LinkedIn: Hazel Lifa

Twitter: @Hazel_Lifa

Lifestyle

Unprepared and Offended

We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~ Gloria Steinem

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Unprepared and Offended Asante Afrika Magazine
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Hazel Lifa

For years tension has been building between the sexes, a battle line has been drawn, and if we are being honest, noone knows when this happened. It is evident in movements like the Men’s Rights Movement and the christened ‘Third Wave of Feminism’. Somehow it has become a ‘Men vs. Women’ world in a reality where we honestly need each other to evolve and survive.

“It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals”.

emma watson

In a past article I spoke about how of late we tend to make everything about gender; a man behaves badly, it’s because he is a man. If a woman abuses her spouse, it is because she is a woman and privileged. In our bid to simplify the issues each sex meets in life and figuring out who’s to blame, we have cultivated so much contempt and mistrust. According to actress, Emma Watson, “It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum, instead of two sets of opposing ideals”.

Unprepared and Offended Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Emma Watson 

I recently had a conversation with an educated lady who pointed out a huge factor in the case of the modern woman and man. Men and boys were never prepared for the empowered, educated and powerful woman point-blank. Think about it; when you are born into societies where two parties hold such suspicion and resentment towards each other, what happens when we try to evolve and grow? Further misunderstanding and skepticism, and the game of broken telephone continues.

“…I will go as far as to say the modern woman is seen as less than.”

Whether it be in the African setting or European household, women have generally played the subservient role; treed away from major roles in powerful spaces like politics or law enforcement, asked only to entertain with their feminine appealing looks, and valued for procreation.

With the rise of feminism, women were encouraged to be just as daring as men, confident, and commanding. Women started entering the workforce, voting, started businesses… oh what a time it was! However, no one thought to prepare boys and men for this evolution of the woman, and unfortunately, it has ended in a stand-off.

The modern-day educated and working woman is often persecuted and made to feel guilty for having aspirations beyond a household and a spouse. Speaking from an African perspective, I will go as far as to say the modern woman is seen as less than. I have been genuinely warned to not get ‘too educated’, as I will be hard to marry off.

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.”

Gloria Steinem

On a social level, boys and men have and are still being taught that to be a ‘man’, a woman or several have to be at their mercy, inferior, and often in a position of humiliation. A woman being intelligent and insightful is equated to a man being less than. One would think that logically, having a working and educated wife would add to the quality of an ideal spouse and life partner. Many households are plagued with violence of all kinds created by insecurities which young boys are taught and carry into adulthood.

The tension has gotten to a point where women are either taking too long to marry, or forgoing the experience altogether. Such actions will have ramifications on society, but the biggest question is whether they will be positive or negative? One asks, “Ok, we have identified the issue, now how do we correct it?” The truth is that the fix is tedious, and it requires dedication from parents and adults around young boys. In the famous words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Culture does not make people. People make culture.”

Unprepared and Offended Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

The perception of the opposite sex and the dynamics of man and woman are topics taught from the tender stage of infancy, hence the nuclear family unit is where the work should start. Boys should be taught that it’s ok if a girl is better than you in a sport or at a job, her capabilities shouldn’t translate to your self-worth. “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters,” says Gloria Steinem. 

Let us be brave enough to teach boys to not see girls as the benchmark of weakness and inadequacy. Teach boys to not to be sore losers who rather than be motivated to do better next time, lash out at girls and women who excel. Let us make phrases like ‘throws like a girl‘, ‘fights like a girl’, a positive thing; if I am a girl, how else am I to throw, fight, etc.?

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#BlackGirlMagic

Zambian professional soccer star, Barbara Banda made history at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo by becoming the first woman to achieve multiple hat tricks in a single Olympic event.

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Image: Zambian professional football star, Barbara Banda
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Hazel Lifa

They say it’s better late than never. The month of August’s significance is one that originated in South Africa after more than 20 000 women from all walks of life united in a mass demonstration walking towards the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Women’s March for Human Rights 1956

The strength and audacity exercised by women like Helen Joseph and Albertina Sisulu on August 9th 1956 are virtues that young African and black women alike can look up to in today’s world. For this year’s just ended National Women’s Month, I would like to shine a bright light on the black girl magic that has been going around in Africa and around the globe lately.

It is the time of the black woman to shine, not to say she couldn’t before, but the world right now is giving black women, as they say these days, ‘their roses while they’re alive to smell them’.

I will kick off this magical show with a feat I am sure many will agree is a game-changer. Kamala Devi Harris, the 49th Vice President of U.S.A. This biracial black woman of South Asian descent is moving in circles which women with any trace of melanin complexion couldn’t even dream of being included in for centuries. Harris’ position as Vice President of the most powerful nation on the planet gives women of colour, old and young, a sense of pride.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Vice President Kamala Harris

Her success also gives us another platform to discuss and grow; Harris’ sex and race are not all she is but they play a large role in the world she lives in. With time we can only hope the novelty wears off.

Zambian professional football star, Barbara Banda made history at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. She has become the first woman to achieve multiple hat tricks in a single Olympic event. The Zambian Women’s soccer squad’s captain is the first African woman to achieve a hat trick in Olympic history ever. Furthermore, she now holds the women’s record for most Olympic goals scored by an African. The 21-year-old is a striker who began her professional career in 2018 playing with Logrono in Spain; she scored 16 goals in 28 games. Banda came to the Olympics an unknown, but has left a name for the history books.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Barbara Banda in a Zambia vs. China Olympics match

Earlier this year we were impressed and elated to learn that the Miss South Africa pageant would be opening its doors to Transgender participants. Lehlogonolo Machaba took this invitation and ran with it, becoming the first openly transgender participant to make the top 30 of the competition.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Miss SA Finalist Letlogonolo Machaba

“Everything I do as a dark-skinned, transgender woman is a statement. My mere existence in society is threatening, and there’s a lot of closet transgender women who are afraid to come out in fear of receiving hate and even worse, being killed. By doing this I am helping all those women to know that there’s still hope and the world is changing for good, slowly but surely,” Machaba said.

Machaba works as a model booker at Invade Models, and is also the founder of the DeMollies fashion brand. She has a Diploma in Fashion Design technology from the Tshwane University of Technology.

Hailing from the western African nation of Nigeria is innovator and businesswoman, Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja. Adelaja’s two businesses Fresh Direct Produce and We Farm Africa are innovating farming technology, a feat that couldn’t come at a better time considering global warming and all. Adelaja is leading the crowd with her revolutionary stackable container farms that ease the strain on land use and opens up the world of fresh quality food to urban populations.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja
#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja at one of her container farms

Adelaja’s organic urban farms require way less land and water in comparison with traditional farming methods, and all while producing a yield 15times higher. Adelaja’s food shortage solutions and farming techniques all work towards creating a cohesive agricultural chain of production and creates opportunities for Africans. Adelaja also works towards the empowerment of women and developmental economics, and still holds positions like Special Assistant to the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Poverty Alleviation and National Coordinator and Consultant to the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Wealth Creation.

In the world of poetry, Dasha Kelly Hamilton is the first black woman to be named the Wisconsin Poet Laureate in its 20years of existence. Her primary objective as the award holder is to be an ambassador who encourages poetry throughout her tenure of 2years. Hamilton will be receiving a stipend of US$2,500 and a residency at Shake Rag Alley Centre for Arts in Mineral Point.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Brenda Katwesigye saw something broken in a system and set out to correct it; the result is Wazi Vision. The Ugandan native became concerned with the high cost of eyecare back in 2015 during a personal visit and launched Wazi Vision in 2016. Wazi Vision provides free eyes tests at schools and rural areas; the startup has even developed an app that incorporates virtual reality in visual tests.

#BlackGirlMagic Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: Brenda Katwesigye

The company also uses recycled materials in manufacturing their glasses which cuts the cost of glasses. In 2018, Wazi Vision was named in the Forbes Top 60 Woman-led Startups that are shaking up Africa, and Katwesigye was named as one of Quartz Africa’s top 30 Innovators. I could go on and on, black girl magic is upon us, and backwards never my melanin beauties.

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The Strength Of A Woman – Celebrating National Women’s Month

To be a woman is to reject being known as a strong woman, because our value goes beyond our expectation to be confronted by pain.

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Image: @remyshoots Photography
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Reflections By Rorisang Moyo

Kumkanikazi. Mofumahadi. Mfumukazi. Queen.

You are most of the time overlooked, undermined,
stifled, frustrated. Scorched by fire, dipped in water;
yet pressure does not end you, it elevates you to
your fullest potential.

This does not mean that to be a woman means
pain is romanticised. To be a woman is to reject
being known as a strong woman, because our value
goes beyond our expectation to be confronted by
pain.

The Strength Of A Woman - Celebrating National Women's Month Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: @remyshoots Photography

To be a woman means to feel things deeply in
their entirety, to be at one with the earth and how it
works. After all, it is through us that great men and
women continue to be born, and to take their place
on this earth.

Woman means beauty, strength, community,
trendsetter, lover, and fighter. To be a girl child and
a daughter, means potential and endless possibilities.

The privilege of standing on the shoulders of
giants, a community of other women; women who
have paved the way for you to live without any barriers – ever-changing, limitless and fluid.

The Strength Of A Woman - Celebrating National Women's Month Asante Afrika Magazine
Image: @remyshoots Photography

No person alive can put a lid on the power of woman.

Photography by Jeremy Kupfuwa, IG @remyshoots

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