Ever heard of paying dowry in Zambia? Okay, to be exact, do you want to get married In Zambia? If that’s the case, then sit tight and follow me as we go through the steps that are required before you are declared husband and wife in Zambia!
Of course Zambia is changing. Some of these traditions are being practiced by some families and others are not.
If you have just seen your wife to be in Zambia and you are thinking of paying dowry, you should know that the payment should not be done by you but by a go-between known as ba Shibukombe.
This is how it goes…
First things first, a woman and man who plan to get married agree between themselves that they want to do so before involving parents from both parties.
A go-between or ba Shibukombe, from the man’s side is chosen. This should be a man of integrity and of good example in society.
Ba Shibukombe arranges the first visit to the woman’s parents and goes with some money (any amount). This is a small token presented to the woman’s parents indicating the reason why he is visiting. The money is kept by the woman’s parents. If the marriage arrangement does not work out, the money is returned.
Of course, in the mean time, the woman has already informed the parents that she wants to get married.
After making known the purpose for his visit even though they know about it, a second appointment is arranged when ba Shikombe, the parents, and the woman must be present.
At this meeting, the woman is asked officially now if she knows who ba Shibukombe is representing, and if she agrees, another meeting is arranged where the payment of the dowry is discussed. The dowry is also known as bride price or lobola in Zambia. This meeting is attended by family members from both sides.
In days past, dowry was only given when a woman was a virgin. These days it is given, whatever the circumstances – just to follow the tradition.
So much has changed in the way marriage was arranged in the old days compared to nowadays. For example a man and a woman would sleep together before the marriage takes place just to prove whether the woman is a virgin or not.
Currently, this is no longer practiced in as much as Zambia is now a Christian nation!
In Zambia, dowry is paid by men to the family of the woman. This is done to compensate the woman’s family for their daughter, to show them gratitude for having raised the woman. However, some tribes, especially men look at this differently. Some men think that they have actually bought a woman. On the other hand, some families from the woman’s side have made it a business: Lobola is pegged at such a high price!
It has taken a new dimension in modern Zambia. Now the size of the dowry will depend upon on how affluent the man is. In the old days, this could be paid by using cattle depending on which tribe a woman is marrying from. This could be valued at 7, 8 or 10 head of cattle!
In modern Zambia, one could be charged say, 10 head of cattle and each cattle is then valued at K1,000 or K2,000 as the case may be and thus the dowry paid is paid in Kwacha.
Before the marriage, those intending to get married were closely supervised, especially the time when they wanted to see each other. Usually, a third person, especially a child was usually present. Other places where they could be supervised were meeting at the grandparent’s home in company of grand parents, without a child. During this period the man was not allowed to visit in-laws at their place.
This is the time also when both sides of the bride and bride groom used to play their part. The man was taught how to look after the wife and vise versa the woman was taught how to look after a man and run a home.
Other traditions performed before getting married and while in marriage are Ichilanga Mulilo, Amatebeto and Ukungwingisha and many more.
There you have it, that’s the way you pay dowry in Zambia!
Any additions or subtractions?
Incidentally, is the custom of paying dowry correct?
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Good day Sir. I have a few questions and hope that you will be able to help me with that. What is the appropriate amount payable to a family for …
Can my grandfather be my bashibukombe?
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Paying dowry is a an African custom that cannot be substituted by anything else. Traditions must be preserved for our future generations. Bashibukombe …
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