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Bride Price; Beautiful Token or Antiquated Tradition?

He had the cow, he was drinking the milk and it was mooing away happy and content without paying a penny

Traditional leader, Aeneas Chigwedere defines lobola as a form of marriage payment to build relationships and to demonstrate the ability of a man to take care of his family. Chigwedere, in his book Lobola: Pros and Cons (1982), explains the practice thus: the bride’s family receives payment in the form of goods, money, livestock to compensate for the pain the parents of the bride went through in raising their daughter and the children that she would bear into the husbands family.

 

https://thisisafrica.me/lobola-bride-price-custom-gone-bad/

NB- I’m describing the the issue of Lobola and Bride Price from the perspective of Southern Africans in the diaspora. If you want to read about the current climate surrounding bride price in Zimbabwe, read the above article by Nqobani Ndlovu.

Up until I was 21 I hated the idea of Lobola. To me it felt like it was paying a family for a bride and in turn making her a mere possession. I hate the idea of women being objectified and the sentiment that a woman’s worth can be decided by her breeding, education and general appearance made me uncomfortable.

When I was 21 I was in the middle of my most and only serious relationship to date with C from my Why Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Made Me Angry post. We’d been dating for about a year and a half and naturally the subject of marriage came up. He’d dated a Zimbabwean girl before me albeit not as seriously but his black friends were primarily Zimbabwean and Nigerian- two cultures among many across the world that practise lobola. When I explained to him that if he planned to marry me he’d have to negotiate a payment to my family as a token of my value he was reasonably confused. He asked if i expected him to pay and i said no. I mean duh FEMINIST! Right?  I’ve heard so many instances of men demanding their bride price back because the bride didn’t meet certain expectations, like taking a faulty TV back to Currys and asking for a refund. Like in this article:

http://www.chronicle.co.zw/jilted-man-demands-lobola-back-assaults-father-in-law/

So,there’s no way I’d want him to ‘pay’ for me right?

Wrong.

Around the same time my Uncle explained to C and I about the origins of Lobola. He said that way back when, a guy would approach a girl if he could and convince her to run away to his family home then send message through an uncle to the girl’s family that he intends to marry her. The other way he could get the girl to come home with him was to throw her over his shoulder and convince her under duress??? (Kidnapping????).  He then went on to explain how in this day and age bride price isn’t always a necessity and unless the bride wants it to go on then it won’t happen. This addition of consent solely from the bride made me open my mind to the idea of Lobola.

I feel that the practise can be abused by opportunistic family members looking for a little money on the side such as the cases I of distant Uncles making outrageous demands for cars etc. It can also be used by poor families who “sell” their daughters to get by. They’ve even been cases where Mothers have been murdered because a disgruntled family member felt like he didn’t get his fair share.

http://www.b-metro.co.zw/man-demands-lobola-back/

However, in my case I want whichever unfortunate soul that falls in love with me and who i equally want to be shackled to for the rest of my life to pay my bride price. I feel like paying it to my family isn’t about paying for me. It’s about showing my family how much he values/loves me.

I was arguing with my best friend (a boy) about this. He says it’s unnecessary ,weird and archaic. I say it’s beautiful,symbolic and the fact that consent from the bride is necessary to even begin the negotiations under the Recognition of Customary Marriages, 1998 (in Zimbabwe) makes it more defensible.

He also said I should be ashamed to force my future husband into paying for me. I used my relationship with C as an example of what a lot of people are doing before they get married- cohabitating.

When two people cohabitate for a long period of time like C and I, there’s little or no difference when compared to a married couple living together. You share everything. So when he said i should be ashamed for making C pay for me I asked him what he was paying for. When you cohabitate, in a case like ours (white guy in his 20s dating an African girl in her 20s), you tend to find yourself falling into the roles of a married couple. I made sure the house was in order, laundry, cleaning, dealing with the landlord etc and he worked more i.e brought home the bacon . I asked my best friend what C was paying for. Since he already had me doing all the things a wife would for free. ( Apart from babies I don’t play thaaat)

He had the cow, he was drinking the milk and it was mooing away happy and content without paying a penny.

In my opinion Lobola  and it’s negotiations in the right hands can be a beautiful uniting of two families. As well as honoring tradition, it’s a token that your love isn’t something you want to hide away and let’s be honest, after the formalities are done, we get to have two weddings= two parties=two big reasons to get litty

Dancing_Wedding_Guests

I would love to hear about my reader’s experience with Lobola, please comment your thoughts and opinions.

xxx Tiniwana

 

Dear Angry Black Girl/Woman 

See I have spent most of my adult life worrying about how I’m perceived and trying to avoid the angry black girl persona ( loud, passionate and clapping my hands to punctuate my sentences)

Hey there black girl with your coils that defy gravity and you skin that absorbs the sun. How are you today? Did you have a productive day raising your kids/ supporting your family and friends/ taking care of yourself by doing nothing at all/getting that degree/grinding at work?

Good.

Did you find that when you dropped your happy smile and just kept a normal straight face people told you to smile or asked you what was wrong? Or they just straight up said you look angry?

Did you find yourself smiling to stop the accusations that you were perpetually angry despite the fact that in actuality in the normal course of your days you have very little to smile about.

Well Hun, next time don’t smile and ask them to say something funny or friendly or ( as in most cases were you’re told to smile) say anything at all.

See I have spent most of my adult life  worrying about how I’m perceived and trying to avoid the angry black girl persona ( loud, passionate and clapping my hands to punctuate my sentences) but it’s 2017 and despite your best efforts that’s what you’ll be seen as and now’s the time to wear your angry black girl persona on your chest because no one else will come to your defence.

How many of us have had to endure the “you’re pretty for a black girl” or when you speak a certain way “you talk like a white person” ( which is untrue because even white people think I “talk posh”???) . Why is it then not okay for us to speak up against these statements?  Why is it I’m labelled angry because I don’t like what you’ve just said and I have the back bone to say it? Why does my passion scare you?

The truth of the matter is as a black woman in the UK you will often find yourself isolated and unprotected because it seems more likely that, even though we rush to protect and defend them when they are attacked, black men won’t do the same for us. They remain silent or even begin the angry black girl narrative so we can’t look to them for support.

The truth of the matter is using the sociologists Fran Ansley’s theory that women that take a traditional role are the takers of shit of the family it makes sense why black women are unsupported and often attacked by society as a whole. Our place on the social-economic hierarchy is the lowest so how dare we ask for better?

Being black and being a female makes you have to work twice as hard to have to achieve in the world of business. In fact, even if you reach the success of Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Council, you still may be mistaken for a cleaner; this speaks volumes in society on our perceptions of black women

Charlene Flash- Blogger Huffington Post 

So in a world where a successful black woman like Dawn Butler is still mistaken as a cleaner,( there’s nothing wrong with the cleaning profession but there is a problem with associating race with an occupation) why can’t we be angry why can’t we be passionate and why can’t we demand more?

xxx

Tawana (Fellow Angry Black Girl )

Why Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Made Me Angry

” I chose to read her book , titled Americanah first because as a Zimbabwean living in England the blurb piqued my interest.”


On December 26 2016 I emerged from the shower and looked at my relaxed shoulder length hair and decided to cut it with the aid of my white boyfriend (let’s call him C). So I did, I cut it all down to the new growth and I was confronted with my Southern African features ,normally hidden away by Peruvian and Brazilian weaves and wigs, and I didn’t mind the way I looked. In fact I loved it.

About a month later after a really stressful exam period( I’m in my second year of a law degree) I decided I wanted to read for fun again so I went to the uni library with a specific author in mind; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m unashamed to say that without her being featured in Beyoncé’s Flawless I wouldn’t know who she was. I chose to read her  book titled Americanah first because as a Zimbabwean living in England the blurb piqued my interest.

The book grabbed my attention straight away. I loved how although Zimbabwe and Nigeria are so far apart the similarities in her characters Ifemelu and I were stark and plentiful. The description of the love story between Obinze and Ifemelu made me nostalgic for the boys in Zimbabwe that would make the effort to pull you from a group of friends so they can “talk” to you ( something I’ve noticed guys over here don’t do ?). I laughed out loud because of the memories and the real ness of the stories being told and how honestly Chimamanda described the immigration experience and the second classness of being black or brown and existing in a white majority country.

Shit got real when I read the chapter when Ifemelu broke up with her white boyfriend Curt. Chimamanda through Ifemelu talks about how in an interracial relationship race is rarely discussed and not because it’s not an issue but because we wish it wasn’t;

The only reason you say that race isn’t an issue is because you wish it wasn’t. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think myself as black and I only became black when i came to America…

We don’t tell our White partners the small things that piss us off and the the things we wish they understood better because we’re are worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being sensitive..

Chimamanda goes on to basically describe what I’ve been feeling for the past 2.5 years that I’ve been seeing C. The only difference is that when presented with an opportunity to tell him about said things that piss me off as a black woman I seize the opportunity and tell him like it is whether he likes it or not.

What made me angry at this book and have to put my kindle down several times before I cried was that Chimamanda is right. Every time I’ve told C about something that bothers me I’m met with remarks that let me know that I’m overreacting. I’ll give you a few examples.

I was watching the best man holiday a movie with a predominately black cast and C turned to me and said why do black people like watching movies with only black people in them?

I looked at him like this 

Then i explained how everything on tv is white washed and you see a black character once in a while and sometimes it’s just nice to see someone that looks like you on tv.

He quickly dismissed it because he could see that I was impassioned and even though I had more to say I held my tongue
The second time it was before my big chop. I took out my weave and I had my relaxed hair out. C casually remarked that “I need weave”.

Any black woman would want to throw hands upon hearing those words. Is the hair that goes out of my head not enough? We argued and he said something along the lines of “oh don’t overreact that’s not what I meant” and that famous quote by Louis C.K came to

“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t

And again I held my tongue

Another situation we were sat outside a restaurant drinking prosecco and we were talking about something in relation to race and I asked for his opinion and he said

“I don’t know it just sounds like you’re an angry black woman”

C knows how offensive that term is so it hurt me and still hurts me now that he thought it was okay to say that.

I’ve also had to fight tooth and nail while his best friend also white told me that saying white people cant say n****r is racist and let’s not forget the jokes about  me being a monkey.

Chimamanda’s book has made me question my entire relationship and it has opened my eyes to my own falsehoods.

50% of the reason I got with C was because of the history of black friendships and relationships and his taste in music. His love for the products of my culture made me feel like he was aware of the race issues and I wouldn’t have to teach  him.

Welll, ISSSA lie

But I love him and it’s my job to teach him about the race issues the privileged aren’t privy to.

Tiniwana xx