Lobola Negotiations




Every year around the month of August we watch as the South African government gathers mass groups of women, usually at a stadium or public square, in order to sing and dance. They celebrate the liberation of women. The visuals of this festivity are now familiar.

Indeed there is much to be celebrated and reflected upon in the strides women have made in shunning poverty and its regressive elements. It is a time for us all South Africans to reflect on how far we have come and the miracle that is now our democratic country.

But this is not without its worries. When we dance “20 years of women in democracy”, we can get caught-up in the our own dance step. The whole noise of festivity can begin to muffle our voices to the extent that we are no longer sure if we agree or not, or if we perhaps wish for higher standards.



This month we invite you to reflect with us on some of the critical issues facing women in South Africa and elsewhere in 2014.

Men and women are encouraged to comment, as we extend through cyberspace the work that begun when those women in the 1950s decided they had had enough.



First Topic: Lobola



In the 19th century missionaries discouraged their new converts from participating in the practice of lobola. Colonial government however felt it was good to retain the custom—even going to the extent of calling on those who had given it up. Lobola would ensure that young African men would work as labourers in white farms in order to have the power to purchase cattle. They would remain as labour as long as they needed to buy cows. Lobola is thus, at least in its modern form, closely tied to the capitalist enterprise. This however does not diminish its ancient African significance.




Should we continue to pay and demand lobola?

How does it promote the equality of women?

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