Masihlalisane or simply Vat en-set means living together like husband and wife but unmarried according to the lobola custom. Payment of bride wealth or lobola is a significant element of marriage among many African cultures. However, the functions and meanings attached to the practice are constantly changing. The bigger question is not whether or not the custom of paying Lobola is still a good one for African people, but whether the practice is always observed for the benefit of the African people or is being hijacked by people who use it for the wrong reasons.
This piece dear reader attempts to address the decay in the marriage system and gives an account on how the institution of marriage and the payment of Lobola has now being used and abused by some families thus turning it into commercial financial project by way of using their daughters and nieces as commercial sexual objects. In some instances greed, the desire for quick financial gains and lack of ethical principles and morality just take centre stage with incidences that often borders on disrespect. The latter occurring when some wanna be rich pretenders’ uncles competing with their own selves on the number of times they walk their nieces on the asle.
While African people view lobolo as a way of ensuring that families come together to agree witness and accept that their family member is married, some use the same tradition to generate income. Some parents and families have distorted the meaning of lobolo leading to shame and disgust by way of using their daughters as commercial sexual tools, undertaking a project management exercise that takes place after a every 3 years, collecting Lobola’s even from un-suspecting men. Some of these men who just appear to have been given E’Korobela or Phehla behaving what in Kgatla culture is called “Yethe” or Sephokophoko a fool of last degree; who would live their own houses and concentrate on trying to compete with raising other men’s kids in the process neglecting their own.
Perhaps we have not only western civilization to blame but also ignorance on the part of our people about their own customs, which were intended to ensure that marriage conformed to the norms and values of our society. That is why in African marriages people are now faced with challenges that could have been avoided if the proper procedures for conducting African marriages had been followed. The Masihlasani syndrome has become a common trend now adays. Equally significant is the evidence that couples who live together before marriages are much more likely to get divorced than couples who do not. There is also evidence that cohabiting couples are less committed to marriage, more accepting of divorce, and more often from divorced families. One of its causes is peer pressure found that women who cohabited before getting married were more likely to cheat on their husband (that is, have a secondary sex partner) after marriage. It has now become a competitive process amongst friends with respect to who beat one another in changing partners and who gets married first, and in some instances mothers of the girl child encouraging that.
Today, the primary cause of female-headed households is divorce, not death, thus forcing it to adapt to meet the demands of a harsh life situation. This is mainly driven by our cultural acceptance of divorce, premarital cohabitation, single parent households, and poor parenting skills. These factors have produced negative effects on the children, as the current family structure is not thorit of the family. Divorce has contributed to the decline of the family structure because in most cases divorces occur between people who have children and in this case children must split their loyalties between parents, thereby fostering weak attachments to each parent. In addition, because of the fact that in most cases of divorces children stay with their mothers, divorce contributes to the number of female-headed households often times leading to introduction of new fathers as one face booker recently commented by labelling such men as bo ÔÇô Rebafitlhetse. The primary consequence of female-headed households is poverty, because of the lack of a two-person income or over financial demands to the ex-husband.
Children whose parent’s divorce has lower levels of well-being…including behavior problems, delinquency, self-esteem, and psychological adjustment. It should also be kept in mind that the children of divorce and of single-parent families are less likely to get married and if married more likely to divorce than those from two-parent families. This illustrates that the family structure in some instances is not fulfilling its function of providing emotional support for children, as the existence of divorce, child abuse by step mothers of fathers’ extramarital affairs, and runaways becomes the norm.
Judging by the statistics that often reach us through newspapers as also by simply taking a look at relationships around us, we know that marriage has seen better days. Once relegated to being something that belonged to alien cultures, divorces as also people voluntarily choosing to stay single are increasingly becoming met with emotions devoid of drama. Maybe it’s time we ask ourselves: is marriage a ‘dying institution? The obvious and immediate result of this chaos in moral life has been the rapid disintegration and decay of marriage as a social institution.
There is now the development of the bankruptcy of marriage often supported and exacerbated by immoral greedy families, mothers and uncles will instead of advising their children will rather choose the opposite thus using it as a commercial project and even putting innocent kids on auction. Their greed in raising more money for themselves by way of bartering their children even makes them loose spirit of botho therefore exacerbating this bankruptcy.
By bankruptcy here I make reference to mean the bankruptcy of modern marriage and the moral foundations upon which it has been constructed. But then perhaps it also has to do with the rising economic independence of the modern woman. The new woman has new interests, new attractions, and new ideals and no care on moral principles whereby they chase some poor women from their houses and bulldozing themselves into other women’s houses without shame. And to spice it up appearing to have given their new idiotic catches (men) E’korobela turning them into outright fools and morons as one face book commenter recently referred to such men as rragwe Re-bafitlhetse” and another one saying “Some women are evil…nevertheless, God is watching. Batho ga ba tshabe bogolo jwa Modimo. In Kgatla culture such men are referred to as “Yethe” or sephokophoko and Mometjies in street lingo.
However, some would say that there is nothing wrong with divorce; they would argue that we need it and that most children survive it and appear okay. Besides, what is so good about old-fashioned families with a father? Women should have their independence. Who needs patriarchy?
*Thabo Lucas Seleke writes from Johannesburg