Dowry: Culture preservation or money maker?



It was common practice in the past that when a young man wanted to marry a young woman he went to her people with an income generating tool that suited that Agrarian society. It was usually in the form of hoe a gardening tool used to till the land; cattle a means for measuring wealth and used in barter and trade in commerce. In Southern Africa cattle was a means to measure wealth. Dowry or lobola as it is known in southern Africa was supposed to be a token of the love of the young man towards his bride to be and a means of proving that he could take care of her. If the young man did not have the means he would work for the dowry.

The ancient African custom of dowry is still in practice even among the most liberal and most westernized Africans. Most Africans who cannot even speak a word of their mother tongue ;or were raised in the western countries only hold dear to their customs when it comes to receiving dowry.

Fast forward to the beginning of the second decade of the twenty first century and the question raise; is it still relevant? Or has the practice outlived its time? Is lobola still relevant or is its just another way to make money? There are reports of guys paying $5,000; $10,000 even up to $20,000. The highest that I’ve heard of has been $47,000 paid by a prominent sugar daddy in his 60s for his twenty something girlfriend. So when did we move from a token to literally buying a luxury car? Share your dowry stories.


  1. Lobola then and now is not for the poor if you cannot afford dowry then you are not ready to get married.

  2. Lobola is being abused if people are now charging such exhobitant amounts. Are women goods being sold at an auction?

  3. This is our culture you now have your head filled with silly ideas that dowry is bad, it has worked for centuries so what’s wrong?

  4. It isn’t “buying” the bride. It’s a (perhaps outdated) way for the groom to say that he will provide for his new wife. In some culturesLobola, Matashi, Hayitha or one of the many other names for Dowry are a way of replacing lost income.

    • That is a valid assessment our question is does it have a place in our modern world where parents make their own money and children were not contributing to the economic welfare of that family?

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