Lobola squad necessary or unnecessary pressure?


Andile Tshuma, Gender

As life gets more expensive and culture is modernised, the lobola custom has turned into an overpriced and extortionist cultural practice.

Money and gain is becoming the centre of the process instead of forming relationships.

Greed now chairs these negotiations and some people now use this ceremony to show off.

Lobola is a pride price, traditionally one paid with cattle meant to forge a relationship between two families which are united by the marriage. However, the functions and meaning attached to it are constantly changing.

The latest addition is the lobola squad, a big trend where the bride-to-be has a “lobola squad” usually friends, being present at the ceremony.

These are often easily recognised in a glitz and glamour affair, with matching outfits, often from Ankara material and other tribal prints.

Most times, the girls will not want to spare any expenses just to ensure that this lobola squad is on point.

While it looks good, some cannot afford it and end up getting into debt just to ensure that their lobola squad dream materialises.

The lobola squad trend has just taken Zimbabwe by storm.

But is it really necessary or its just peer pressure and wanting to show off?

I mean, there are professional photoshoots involved, deco, catering, tier cake and all.

Is it really part of the ceremony or is it just for show off?

I asked a couple of ladies, and men too about their opinion on the modern day lobola day.

Some were all for the idea of the lobola squad while others dismissed it as an unnecessary show, meant to keep up appearances.

Some men described it as bizarre, while one narrated how his fiancé then had expected him and his family to pay for the outfits of an eight-member lobola squad, on top of the grocery list and the cows and all the other requirements of lobola. He said he did not partake in the squad plans but the day happened successfully, and his wife now understands that it was an unnecessary waste of money.

One lady said the day was very important to her and it was necessary that her friends be a part of it.

“It’s just how I wanted it. I saw it in one of the Facebook groups and it looked beautiful and I knew a number of girls who had done it that way. My family was sceptical about me bringing a team of my friends during a family ceremony but I ended up having it my way and I am happy,” she said.

Elders maintain that the lobola rite is supposed to be a family ceremony and that it must be kept traditional and respectable.

“The lobola is a sacred cultural rite. Young people are trivialising it nowadays as they are putting their friends at the forefront. Yes, it is a time of rejoicing but family should be at the forefront and friends must not take part. They can be part of the celebrations later but must not be part of the actual proceedings. We are Africans, involving too many people can bring bad omen. Some people may be pretending to be good friends but they can be jealous, people must not jinx it,” said an elderly man who preferred anonymity.

Another elderly person said the closest thing to a lobola squad must be the bride’s sisters or cousins, who ideally help her with preparing the meals for the lobola delegation.

The big question remains — Is there anything wrong about bringing a team of friends with matching outfits to support you on your day?

I think there can never be one answer for this one. However, ensure that whatever you want to do is within your budget and does not leave you in debt. Also, do not burden your partner with it, he already has the day and its expectations to think about.

Ensure that this lobola squad you are bringing to your home on your very special day is a squad of genuine friends whom you trust. There have been stories of friendships going sour after some friends, the squad girls started mocking the bride-to-be and telling the world about how much bride price was paid for her.

Social media was awash recently after a lobola squad member of a seemingly very glamourous lobola day revealed that only USD$40 bride price was paid for the friend. Well, details later emerged that someone had forgotten the money, however, whatever the case may have been, it was not the friend’s place to tell the world about her friend’s bride price. If the family accepted that money, who was she to have an opinion, after all love is a matter of two people, unless there is abuse involved and outside parties have to intervene.

Whatever your thoughts may be on the lobola squad, just ensure that you do not break the bank for glamorous photoshoots in expensive looking matching outfits, for friends who may talk behind your back. Ensure that you are not doing it just out of peer pressure but you really want it and can afford it. — @andile_tshuma

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