Lobola Contract Will End Cost-of-Cows Row

The contract, endorsed by the Proudly South African Campaign and the Department of Home Affairs, is a pre-printed lobola document which the families complete by filling in personal details and the specific amounts of money involved.

Lobola Contract Will End Cost-of-Cows Row

Sunday TimesJohannesburg)
September 19, 2004

By Futhi Ntshingila
Johannesburg

A South African banker has come up with a modern solution to the age-old conflict over the price of cows in lobola negotiations.

Mpho Lebogo has developed a lobola contract that legally binds and protects the parties involved. He said he came up with the idea after paying lobola for his wife and receiving only a piece of paper as a receipt.

“The contract dignifies lobola negotiations and in the case of disagreements, it gives legal protection to everyone involved. What happens with lobola is that people often misplace the pieces of paper where the negotiations were written down and disputes over payments erupt,” he said.

The contract, endorsed by the Proudly South African Campaign and the Department of Home Affairs, is a pre-printed document which the families complete by filling in personal details and the specific amounts of money involved.

Lebogo said both monogamous and polygamous contracts were available, but insisted couples would still need to register their marriages with the Department of Home Affairs.

Professor Sihawu Ngubane, the convener of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection for the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, said the contract was a good idea.

“I commend this initiative because the problem is that people no longer pay with real cows. The conflict arises in determining the money price of each cow . . . Normally 11 cows are the standard bride price, except when the woman has had a child,” he said

Lebogo said: “I have made presentations to the traditional leaders . . . They love the idea because it doesn’t move away from our cultural practices . . . it’s making them fit with the current times.”

Allan West – who lectures new magistrates at the state’s Justice College and worked with Lebogo on the legal aspects of the contract – described it as a “wonderful innovation”.

“It works as an assistance to the parties so that they can prove their marriage was concluded traditionally in terms of customs and laws of people,” he said.

Copyright © 2004 Sunday Times.

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