Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Reporter
LOBOLA is the most abused cultural rite of our time as the ceremony has slowly been westernised with extravagance taking over what was initially meant to be the official introduction of the groom’s family to his in-laws.
Photo-shoots, deco, cakes and matching outfits have become a must-have for the ceremony, distorting the whole purpose and the cultural relevance.
The new normal which is slowly eroding Zimbabwean cultures has taken root and no woman is agreeable to just having her lobola ceremony without the squad, professional photographers, matching outfits, deco for guests, three-course meal and other such expenses.
Nokuthula Moyo from Emakhandeni says as her lobola day draws nearer, she finds herself under pressure to keep up appearances and go with the trend although her parents wish for something different.
“Times are tough and honestly I do not see any reason why I should spend extra money by hiring service providers who should be present on the wedding day. We are slowly deviating from our culture and it’s sad to note that solemn unions have been reduced to trends and people just do these ceremonies to get content for their social media pages,” she said.
“I doubt that I will fall into that trap because lobola is meant for a few family members and the in-laws hence we are likely to go that route with my family. I also do not understand why a special day for two people should have squads. It’s meant to be a special beginning of our lives together and we will only do a photo-shoot later with just the two of us.”
For Peace Ndlovu, the new trend was not about extravagance but about creating memories of a beautiful day that comes once in one’s lifetime.
She said the thrust is not on overspending but on adding a few extra dresses for close family and friends so that they have a reminder of the union.
“I think lobola is more important than white weddings hence the need to go the extra mile in immortalising the day. Lobola day is the highlight of any marriage and should be celebrated more than any ceremony, it’s not even about peer pressure but upholding our true culture,” she said.
“During my lobola day, we wore simple dresses, we didn’t spend more than US$10 on each of my girls and sisters who were part of the squad. We did not have any deco or expensive service providers but we managed to create a lasting memory of the day when I officially became part of my husband’s family.
Ndlovu said what remains important is for one to uphold his or her culture even when trying to create memories.
One socialite Simiso Hlabangana said lobola day was very important hence blacks should take pride in adding flavour to the tradition as means of celebrating being African.
“I think we should just do away with white weddings and focus on the lobola day, it deserves all the merry-making, expensive décor and the photos because culturally that’s the real wedding. If one chooses to go all out during their lobola day, they are free to do so. I think we should accept that culture is dynamic and there is nothing wrong with modernising it to suit our needs,” said Hlabangana.
She however said while accepting the changes in how the lobola ceremony is conducted, people shouldn’t lose focus and the essence of why one should pay lobola.
“Lobola remains an important traditional rite and it is my hope that the extra demands brought about by the changing times will not discourage men from paying lobola,” she said. – @thamamoe.