Negotiating lobola

Lobola negotiations can be tricky – we speak to an expert to get advice on how to handle it.

The lobola process is when a man or his family pays a certain amount to the bride’s family in order to obtain the right to marry their daughter.
We chat to Lebogo Mpho, founder of the Lobola/Magadi Institute, about lobola negotiations.

What are your tips for choosing the best representatives to negotiate for lobola?
Family comes first and there must always be a member from your family, but you can also appoint someone who respect your views and those of your future wife when it comes to the tradition of lobola.
The person you choose should not have personal interests and negotiate in order to gain something for himself.

What is the best way to negotiate the fairest deal?
The best way to negotiate the fairest deal is to listen. Your family should always speak positively about their makoti (daughter-in-law) and the woman’s family should make sure that their daughter is worth every word uttered in the negotiation.

Can cows still be used in the lobola negotiations? Or has cash taken over?
Cows and cash are the same language when it comes to negotiations. There is no difference. Most families choose cash instead of cows, because of convenience.

What is the money used for? Can it be used for the wedding celebrations?
Yes, it can be used for the celebrations. The money is for the wedding celebrations, from dihlabiso (exchange of gifts and slaughtering for the feast), decorations and hiring of tents, etc.

Can repayments be done in instalments?
There are no repayments as there are no purchases.

The dos and don’ts of lobola negations
Lebogo offers the following tips to make the negotiation process go smoothly:
• Don’t argue during the negotiations. Be supportive with facts of building and not of destroying – remember that the words you utter during negotiations are the ones that determine the destiny of the marriage.
• Don’t start the negotiations with money, but rather pray and then advance any form of gifts thereafter to open the discussion.
• Do get your copy of the lobola contract. It will help when it comes to any form of claims on behalf of your spouse as a formal proof of your marriage, other than drafted hand-written notes.