Have You Ever…?


“Have you ever been lobolada?” I asked chef Tieta shortly after Mozambican Women’s Day. Lobolo is a traditional ceremony during which the man pays to the woman’s family an amount previously agreed, in money or other specimens, so that he can take her home with him. In reality, the same word lobolo is also used as a verb and as a noun to refer the payment to the bride’s family.


The existence of women who wouldn’t mind to be treated as merchandise could be a strong argument against their cleverness. I cannot see a single vantage in lobolo for two main reasons: 1) Lobolo implies submission to the rules created by men and their families, a dangerous situation in a society where law is weak and expensive, beyond reach for the majority of women. 2) If women are not happy lobolo becomes serfdom, once the traditional law says a woman can only be free if she or her family is able to pay the lobolo back, something unlikely to happen due to the extreme poverty people live in. Women are forced  to stay and digest their unhappiness. Just tell me who would like to live like that?


So I asked Tieta if someone ever paid lobolo for her.


“Never,” she answered.


“And would you like it to have happened?”


“Yeesss!” she replied in a way that left no doubts about her choice.


No use to discuss with a set mind. For a little of appreciation (or something wrongly translated into appreciation), women seem capable of accepting anything. I mean some women, thankfully.