Lobola is an African marriage practice whereby a bridegroom’s family makes a payment in cattle or cash to the bride’s family before the couple finally gets married. Lobola is also called bride price is some parts of West Africa. Why and when does the issue of repayment come in for something that is given with joy and love?
Some people opine that when the marriage fails or the couple decides to part ways, lobola can be paid. However the payment is not always paid 100%. “It is paid on a reducing scale through an arrangement, says Mkhize Vela.
In some cases, the woman is liable to pay back lobola if she is found to have cheated and the husband does not wish to continue with the marriage. In some cases, this does not apply to men if even the husband is the one at fault and the cause of separation or divorce. This is a glaring problem of gender problem in Africa.
Other opinion indicates that it depends on families. Also, there are conditions that may not require lobola being repaid. For instance, if there are no children in the marriage or the duration of the marriage prior divorce is short. Many say who was wrong matters in some instances and if the husband was wrong, his family may not demand refund.
There are instances where women themselves choose to pay back their lobola for the purpose of cutting all ties with ex-partner. A social media user (@bled_led), said she paid back her own lobola. Interestingly, she paid through an EFT. Although she was not asked to do so but she did because she said she was the one who filed for divorce. “I did it for my peace of mind. I did not want any strings attached,” she said.
There are also situation where a man is abusive and as a way of rescuing the woman from abusive husband, family can repay lobola.
Yet, there are those who believe that it is wrong to ask for a refund of lobola because of what it represents and paying lobola is not like you purchase something that you later seek refund. “The love we once shared, respect and self-love would not allow me to demand my lobola back,” said a male social media commentator.
This debate is also sparking another argument about the necessity of lobola in modern marriage. Is lobola still relevant and should it be done away with?
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