A traditional Swazi wedding, part two: Lobola

After the teka, the bride will return to her parents’ homestead. Her family will need to decide on the bride’s price, and then the whole family will travel back to the groom’s homestead for the sitsinjana, or lobola negotiation.

In addition to bringing a stick with notches to equal the number of cows the bride’s family wants, they will bring dishes, grass mats, and 25 liters of traditional alcohol for the groom’s family.

Before the bride and her family are allowed on to the groom’s homestead, the bridal party must stand at the gate to the groom’s homestead and sing. After enough songs, a gogo from the groom’s family will throw money down at the gate to welcome the bride’s family to the homestead.

The bride’s family will be shown to their sleeping areas, and then they can distribute the gifts they brought.

A male or female elder from the bride’s family will put down the stick with the lobola price. The two sides of the family will come to an agreement about the number of cows. The price can change based on the bride’s level of education, prior children, if she is currently pregnant with the groom’s child, and family status. The price is usually between 15 and 20 cows. The groom’s family may not have this many cows, so a monetary amount could also be determined.

After the price is settled, the groom will slaughter a goat that will be given to the bride’s family. Dancing, drinking, and eating will follow.

On a later date, the groom’s family will deliver the cows to the bride’s family’s homestead. The cows will always be delivered around midnight on a Friday. The groom’s family will stand at the gate, waiting for permission to enter the homestead after calling, “Siyalobola gogo” (We have the lobola, granny).

In addition to the lobola cows the groom brings, there will also be two additional cows that will be slaughtered on Saturday for food on Sunday.

On Saturday morning, the gozolo, the messenger from the teka, will slaughter the two extra cows that were delivered.

If the groom’s family did not bring all of the required cows for the lobola, the families will negotiate when the next delivery will be made. The delivery ceremony happens only on the first delivery, though.

The other important part of this ceremony is that the bride’s family will give a female child to the groom who will take over as his wife if anything happens to the woman he teka-ed. This child is in addition to the child that was given to the bride and groom during the teka ceremony from the groom’s family.

After the slaughtered cows are eaten on Sunday and all of the dancing is complete, the groom’s family will return home. Once the lobola is completely paid, the groom’s family will prepare for the umtsimba ceremony that completes the wedding.

This entry was posted in Africa, Peace Corps, Swaziland, Tradition and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A traditional Swazi wedding, part two: Lobola

  1. This is an amazing first-hand account from an outside perspective! Well done for sticking with it, and sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s