In generalty, our Shona would not allow contact between a prospective Son in law with his father in law. This means that for one to marry, they would allow their process pass through the tetes etc and the Father was One of the last people to know. Consequently the guy, if he was lyrical, would approach the girl directly at the well (kutsime), or kuhuni or one of those community places.
Now this parallels the English custom of community dances. We also had our own form of such dances. Remember the Jenagurus, Jitis, Bira…though these ceremonies had a particular purpose, they were also good rendezvous for suitors. Some choices were even made upon ones ability to dance, or play the drum. I can argue that this phenomenon is even present in our present day culture, if you consider that ‘musicians’ are always targeted. They are victims as well as accomplices even engineers of some infamous trysts in local assembly. I’m no expert, just a simple observation. But that’s not the point.
Culturaly, as I gathered from some, the Boy would do what he can to please. The minimal role of the Father meant that full trust was placed upon the ‘tete/babakhazi’ to help and guide the damsel in the ‘courtship process’. After the youngman had proven himself serious, that is when the matter would be brought to the Fathers’ attention, this also included, the brothers of the girl. Back then if the ‘tsanos’ knew you were playing games with their sister, they could harrass you, as if they were going to marry her after all. But that is culture.
After the Father knew, and proceedings were done, date for lobola payment was agreed, and all formalities done. Done deal, the two are married. With little prevalence of contraception amongst such communities, sex before marriage would often show its results, that is pregnancy. Now if you impregnated someone, the issues of Kutizira (eloping) would come into play. But there were other options, like kutema ugariri (if the groom didn’t have enough lobola, he could work for it, more or less like Jacob issue in the Bible).
There was also ” _musengabere_ ” which is actually abduction of a girl. Now this was complex in that some of the abducted girls would have denied proposals and hence used as sour revenge. In some instances the couple would have agreed, as a way of quickly starting a family, if the girls parents or relatives were not forthcoming. The issue of Musengabere was used in the Bible in Judges 21 to solve the Tribe of Benjamins’ lack of wives. There are variations on its tendencies as with the difference in localities.
There was also the issue of kuzvarira. This was prevalent amongst poor communities who relied on rich individuals. Trusting their high birth rates, people would get into debts, which were to be repaid by the giving of a daughter as a bride. This led to too many child marriages, and its still a scourge amongst ethnic communities in Africa, India and Asia. One might want to link it to David who was given the daughter of Saul as a war-victory price. This is however ambiguous, but likely to be equated to the Rozvi Empire were warriors were given young girls as brides after a successful conquest.
Various examples can be drawn up, as to how, we as Zimbabweans got to marry. One needs a thorough study of historical facts and scientific studies to have the true picture, but most of us we do not have that time. We want to get married in the most righteous way possible. Something we can closely relate. A system which is neither heathen nor just purely Jewish. We want a system which we can identify in ‘The Word’. Believe you me, such an one system is not existent. For what works for Zimbabweans do not work for South Africans, even Malawians, late alone Americans.
How do we fix this fix we are in? To copy the American way is to lose our rich cultural bringing. The Americans are actually trying to find another way better because their current system has produced more heartbreaks and depression than successful marriages. Theirs is an example which we can’t copy in entirety but in some instances. For example, the role and relationship of the Parents of the girl with the Boy. In our culture the prominent figure was the ‘tete’ but in our circles we curtailed or completely removed that role.
The boy seeks advice from whomever he sees fits, but the process passes through the Pastor, who is the mentor of the boy. In some instances the Pastors role is only as an informant to the Father of the girl because of culture. However nowadays there are parents who want the guy to come directly to them. YES, the guy goes to the Pastor, and is told, Ok, that one told me I refer all the guys interested in his daughters to come and see him directly.✅. In some instances the Pastor acts as an intermediary, until the girl and boy agree, or the guy is given a kick✅. In some instances, the Pastor acts as a debunker. In some instances a matchmaker, bloker, the list goes on.
What is important here is that whoever is reading this at this, acknowledge and follow whatever they are taught by their prospective leaders. This is not to sway opinion, neither to encourage sabotage.😉. Stay with your church teaching.
What is evident is that whatever system we have now is a hybrid of some sort. It’s a system which heavily borrows from various tenents to strengthen itself. It is a system which thrives on making corrections whilst making sure the values of Chastity and Righteousness are upheld. It’s a system, though not devoid of loopholes, which I won’t name, is as strong to see a whole lot of us young people to the other side.
Our system still includes ‘LOBOLA’ a prestigious ceremony every parent who has a daughter dreams for. It is the Bride Price payment which is equated to Christ dying for our sins in many circles. It is a ceremony which is queried too, by different minds. Some call it comodification of the girl child, some call it slavery, amongst many. Lobola payment can be traced in the Bible. Probably it took various forms, from Just tokens of appreciation, to 10 Carmel load of gifts for Rebecca. To a 1000 Philistine foreskins for Sauls daughter, to 14 years for Rachel, to nothing but deep sleep for Eve, to 15 pieces of silver for Gomer in Hosea amongst many examples.
However some would want to say marriage is not Redemption. (Pause). Wait a bit. Steady, I hear you talk of the Kinsman Redeemer. Oh, did you say Ruth, even Christ, Gomer? That was redemption for sure. Redemption which is recovery for a fee for something you had lost in the first place. Right? Question is:
DID YOU PAY FOR IT IN THE FIRST PLACE, BEFORE YOU LOST IT? Oh, oh? This is uncharted territory I better not go there. Uhm Did Marlon and Killion pay anything for Ruth and Oppah in the first place. Did Hosea pay something for Gomer in the first instance. Or did God pay something for Natural Israel before Egypt. What of Abraham, when he took Sarah. Even when he sent Eliazar with gifts for Rebecca, was it Laban who charged or it was Abraham’s revelation? Oh, yaa, we still talking of Lobola. I guess I have talked enough.
I therefore take this opportunity to thank you all for taking your precious time to read these diatribes. I know I’m clumsy in expression, and lacks plot and style. But thanks the same for the shares, likes, feedbacks etc. It’s been intrigueing for me, I dont know you. If you feel you have questions, answers, opinion, feel free to share with me. Hit my inbox, my Whatsapp or email. I will be glad to continue the conversation. For now I underline it here.