Lobola: Is it still relevant/necessary today?

todayJune 14, 2024 28

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Ah, lobola. The delightful custom where love meets livestock, and romance takes a quick detour through the Kraal. For those blissfully unaware, lobola is a Southern African tradition where a groom pays the bride’s family, traditionally in cows, for the honor of marrying their daughter. It’s a beautiful blend of love, negotiation, and bovine economics. But in today’s age, with Tinder dates and online wedding registries, is lobola still necessary? Let’s dive in with a splash of humor and a sprinkle of cultural respect.

The Modern Love Story

Picture this: You’re swiping right on a dating app, and you meet the love of your life. After a whirlwind romance of Netflix and chill, you decide it’s time to pop the question. But wait! Before you can say, “Will you marry me?” you need to calculate how many cows you owe her family. Suddenly, your romantic proposal feels more like a livestock auction.

The Negotiation

Negotiating lobola is an art form. It’s like bargaining at a flea market, but instead of haggling over a vintage lamp, you’re discussing the worth of your future spouse. It’s a delicate dance where charm, respect, and sometimes a sneaky calculator come into play.

“How many cows for your daughter?”

“She has a degree and can cook a mean pot of pap. That’s at least 15 cows.”

“But she’s terrible at parallel parking. Let’s make it 12.”


Cows vs. Crypto

In today’s digital age, the concept of paying with cows seems a bit… outdated. Imagine showing up at your future in-laws’ house with a herd of cattle. “Where do you want these?” you ask, as they scramble to clear out the garage. Instead of cows, perhaps we could modernize lobola with Bitcoin. “I’ve transferred 3.5 BTC to your wallet. Do I get the bride now?”

The Cultural Significance

All jokes aside, lobola holds deep cultural significance. It’s a symbol of respect, commitment, and the joining of two families. It’s about honoring traditions and keeping a sense of identity alive. But the question remains: is it still necessary? Maybe the answer lies in finding a balance between tradition and modernity. Perhaps we can keep the spirit of lobola alive without the need for a farm in the backyard.

The Wallet Woes

Let’s not forget the financial strain. Planning a wedding is expensive enough without adding a livestock bill. Couples today might prefer to invest in their future home rather than a herd of cows. Imagine telling your partner, “Honey, we can’t afford a down payment on the house because we had to buy your parents a dozen cows.” Not exactly the most romantic conversation.


So, is lobola necessary in today’s age? It depends on who you ask. For some, it’s an indispensable tradition that must be upheld. For others, it’s a quaint custom that could use a modern twist. One thing is certain: whether you’re paying in cows, cash, or cryptocurrency, the goal is the same – to celebrate love and the union of two families. And maybe, just maybe, we can do that without needing a mooing wedding gift.

Written by: Arthur Daka

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