Africa Traditions in Zimbabwe
African traditions, culture and customs get very interesting when you observe Zimbabwe’s marriage traditions. To start with Zimbabwe is a mixture of several ethnic groups numbering close to 20. The most dominant ones are the ones with majority populations mainly Shonas and Ndebeles.
The marriage customs are not a 24 hours job as it scan go on for up to a year or even more before a marriage is recognised by families. Sometimes it can be in weeks or days depending with how families agree or disagree in negotiations.
It is also important to note that a lot of changes have taken place due to western influences and Christianity. It is now very rare to see the so called Zimbabwe African traditions you read and hear about in the African folklore books.
Lobola or roora, the bride price, is very important and a marriage can actually be cancelled if there is no agreement on the amount to be paid. This tradition is very common in many Southern and East African countries like Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana. In families that are still very strict in following African culture, lobola will be paid in the form of animals mainly cows in Zimbabwe. In some cultures chickens, sheep and goats will be accepted.
In years gone by in the hunting and gathering cultures, a hoe was enough to pay the bride price. Some asked the man to go and bring a wild animal usually anything from the wide variety of African antelopes.
Money is now the most preferred form of payment for the bride price. In Zimbabwe families can charge from as little as $1000 up to $35000 depending with the status of the people involved. The most expensive women are those considered very educated and those from rich families and certain parts of the country.
African and Zimbabwean culture and customs dictate that a man has to pay damages if the bride’s family know that the two were now living as ‘husband and wife’ before performing the customs with the parents of the woman. The damages are usually a small percentage of the lobola.
In Zimbabwe damage is usually charged if the woman gets pregnant before marriage. Many Zimbabwean men will rush to negotiate with in-laws as soon as the girl is pregnant to avoid paying damages which are a form of a penalty fee that you pay initially before you pay the lobola dowry. This will only work if the pregnancy is hidden from relatives.
During dowry negotiations, a middleman will be used to pass message between the two families. Usually the man’s family will be outside the gates while the woman’s family will be indoors. As soon as the prices are agreed the man’s family and representatives will be asked to come indoors to greet the in-laws.
Later on the man will bring the lobola, groceries and small gifts to the in-laws. There is a lot that happens and more information on African traditions, culture and customs will be added to this topic in the future.