#AskYourMcm: Should virginity be used to determine the dowry price

Image from Pinterest

The lobola/roora ceremony like humanity and all things alike, has evolved and is done a bit different from how it was done before the millennium. From my understanding paying lobola/ roora/ dowry was a token of appreciation by the groom and his family to the family of their desired bride. This was never a five or six figure amount but could even be a hoe, an ax and so on. Cattle and any other livestock was a sign of wealth , hence those who were well up in those days would then go to the extent of giving their bride’s family some livestock.

The ceremonies are more lavish now thanks to Pinterest, social media and hashtags. I have heard people commenting when a woman graduates ,that her bride price has just gone up. How education is related to bride price , I really wouldn’t know. Some say the bride price of a virgin is supposed to be higher than the bride price of a non-virgin and it even has to be lower if the woman has had children before. Again how there is a co-relation between all of these factors and determining the amount to be charged for lobola/roora is something I will never understand.

There was a story which trended on the Zimbabwean social media streets ,of a woman who told her boyfriend she could not have him pay her bride price with the local Zimbabwean currency. This week we asked a few men if virginity, previous child birth and someone’s education level were determining factors of the amount to be paid for lobola/roora/dowry and this is what they had to say:

Roora is structured to factor in details that you have pointed out it virtually includes sexual matters and the education matters etc for instance rugaba is purely about sex and in some cultures when the bride is left at her husband’s home there is a white cloth given to the couple. As they consummate their marriage through sex the cloth has to have traces of blood to show she had her hymen broken and sometimes the aunts inform the brothers on the virginity status at the end. The bride price is dependent on comprehensive communication between bride groom and the aunts because some issues if revealed will be prejudicial to the bride in the eyes of the in-laws but usually the family of the bride just do as they please and if the groom loves his wife he will just adhere. Max
I don’t think ,there is no positive co-relation between virginity and the bride price to be paid. Lobola is meant to bring together the two families involved,kuumba ukama in shona. Stranger

Yeah that all matters and plays a role to the charging of the whole thing.But on the other hand can one really put a price on love, the union that happens between the two. That Guy

I don’t think all that matters , when the guy has money he will simply bring the money that he has to pay the bride price. Most of these guys who complain about the price and put in other factors simply do not have the money. Hee haasi virgin anobvisirwa shoma zvisina basa izvo, Shuga hairegi kunaka nekuti yavhurwa neumwe munhu. ( One can not say because she is a virgin then the money to be paid has to be lower. The African proverbs says sugar will still taste like sugar even if the pack has been opened by someone else already. Mr Nice Guy

I think lobola should be based on what the groom can afford. I’m sure most families want their children to be happy and to start on a financially stable note. Personally speaking if i could afford a million dollars and 1000 cows, I’d pay it just as a token of gratitude to her parents and not because I’m buying her. People forget that in lobola you are not buying a person but you are saying thank you to her family. Tatenda

The bride’s family, I would like to think, considers some of these determinants to lessen and or increase the financial burden on the groom. It is good given how financially constrained all people are. But to think of it seriously, these variables are just a step in the opposite direction of the true nature of love. Dowries objectify women as property acquired from her parents in the guise of appreciation her parents’ taking care of her. If it is just the core appreciation of the care given to a woman, then these determinants wouldn’t be put in place. Tatenda

I think the lobola process should be reviewed as before it was a way of joining families so it should be such .I think those things should not play any part in the bride price . What should be considered is that the guy has taken the necessary respectful channel in wanting to be with his other half .the issue of virginity, school , kids and education have already been accepted by this man so whether they are present or not he is content with his woman. As such the girl’s family should accept that what they did for the daughter was exactly that ,for the daughter. Let’s not make it seem like we are breeding a race horse to win the Grand challenge. We are raising children so that they have better lives than the ones we had. Drew

The issue of Value is between the two that have decided to be together. Some men don’t consider virginity as a value simply because they know it ends within a second and some also don’t consider academics as value as they know it doesn’t define one’s level of integrity .The amount with the values considered might not be as common to the other family as considered by the other. Marital qualities and values are usually too personal more than general considerations. So l will assume as upon the choice of the groom it will mean he has been satisfied by the qualities .This meaning from the bride’s side they should charge as a concern of building relations as well as towards their considerable level of justice not as per the achievements of their baby girl ,because one can marry someone who is a virgin and with degrees as well but whilst those are not the qualities that he considered in deciding to marry her so it becomes unfair if the family charge considering what the Groom didn’t consider. Mbongeni

The whole ceremony has just been commercialized by parents who are opportunists. Taking culture out of it, logically both families need to ensure that the new couple start off well financially. Virginity, education and children should not be factors to consider regarding the amount of money to be paid for lobola. What should rather be discussed is if both parties involved are ready to make the lifetime commitment not any of this bullsh*t and nonsense. King

We will talk about whether lobola should fall or not another day lol. But well, this is what your crush thinks when it comes to the amount to be paid for lobola. Whether she is a renowned lawyer, CEO or sits on the board of directors of many compliments that’s no ground to decide how much to charge the groom’s family. Or maybe back in the day a chief’s daughter would be married off to the highest bidder we really do not know. Do share in the comments what you think.

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