reasons why bridewealth remains a concern in africa societies

Families are of supreme importance in Africa, and the bridewealth payment cements this relationship. These inadequacies have led to conflicting results and ungeneralizable conclusions. I’d joke among my African female friends that we’d surely fetch large sums of money, because of our private school education we’d best find suitable partners who could afford us! All Rights Reserved. “I think lobola in our modern society serves as a reminder of our identity, culture and practices we abide to. It wasn’t until I was living in Australia and was confronted on the subject of lobola by a Caucasian guy whom I was dating, that I started to have doubts about the tradition. Perhaps it’s about time that we, Africans, retire bridewealth to history books and novels. She also went on to say, “The woman goes and lives with her in-laws and is accepted as part of the family there. Also, since in many past societies, women did not receive an inheritance from their parents, the dowry served as a substitute for the woman’s inheritance. Causes of poverty 2. Wiley has published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace. According to the latest figures from the World Inequality Database, the top 1% of South African earners take home almost 20% of … Bridewealth has no precise analogue outside of Africa, but the bridewealth transaction is comparable to the Western marriage contract in certain respects. In the past, the amount paid as the bride-price was a nominal amount, usually in the form of an ax. These average life expectancy figures are the lowest compared to other continents. In Sub-Saharan Africa where land was abundant and there were few or no domesticated animals, manual labor was more valuable than capital, and therefore bridewealth dominated. “It just seems like buying a person,” he’d said. In such cultures, a marriage is not reckoned to have ended until the return of bridewealth has been acknowledged, signifying divorce. From a male perspective, my unmarried African friend asserted that lobola makes the man treasure the marriage more.“If something doesn’t cost you anything, you won’t take care of it,” he said. Anecdotally speaking, Africans remain divided on the lobola issue. Anecdotally speaking, Africans remain divided on the. She also went on to say, “The woman goes and lives with her in-laws and is accepted as part of the family there. The first European observers of bride wealth arrangements concluded that it constituted an actual purchase of wife akin to buying a slave. In traditional African society, men guarded the home and the cattle, or went to war. Upon the death of a woman, the value of her dowry was to be divided only among her children—it was not to go to … Bridewealth occurs in 29 percent of societies and is commonly know as a transaction where "substantial property (e.g., animals, money) which the groom or his relative give to … tradition that once seemed so logical and so normal to me, and to rediscover its intended purpose and meaning. Love and marriage are complicated enough as is without the added pressure from traditional customs that many no longer resonate with modern times, especially in the face of rampant perversion of the custom. The number of lives claimed by illnesses over the last couple of years has been over a million deaths annually. With a growing open access offering, Wiley is committed to the widest possible dissemination of and access to the content we publish and supports all sustainable models of access. Supporting Concern means that $0.90 of every dollar donated goes to our life-saving work in 23 countries around the world. A consequence of the continuation of the. seek information on a wide variety of topics including African-American hair care, health issues, relationship custom also argue that the practice protects women: it incentivizes families to invest in their daughters through education and other means to potentially increase their “value,” it gives the woman’s family some assurance about the financial stability of the groom-to-be, and it gives the woman official wife status in the community. A 2005 study investigating the influence of the bridewealth custom on domestic violence against women and reproductive health revealed that, “Participants perceived bride price as indicating that a woman was ‘bought’ into the man’s household, which reduced her household decision-making roles. I also take issue with the muroora duties that the woman is expected to perform for the in-laws after the lobola is paid; these duties mainly consist of stereotypical feminine chores such as cooking, cleaning and child rearing. Throughout the continent, the diversity of systems reflects the traditions, religions, and economic circumstances of a wide variety of distinct cultures. This question prompted me to rethink the lobola tradition that once seemed so logical and so normal to me, and to rediscover its intended purpose and meaning. The study finds little evidence to support previous conclusions about the functions of bridewealth and women's status in Africa. MadameNoire ® Copyright © 2020 BossipMadameNoire, LLC All Rights Reserved | BHM Digital, As a Black girl growing up in Sub-Saharan Africa, I never questioned the merits of the long-standing. Go to Table duties that the woman is expected to perform for the in-laws after the lobola is paid; these duties mainly consist of stereotypical feminine chores such as cooking, cleaning and child rearing. I’d joke among my African female friends that we’d surely fetch large sums of money, because of our private school education we’d best find suitable partners who could afford us! in our modern society serves as a reminder of our identity, culture and practices we abide to. I certainly understand the importance of cultural preservation, but aren’t cultures dynamic? Select a purchase As a form of transmission of property at marriage, bridewealth payment is associated with specific social institutions and structures. Aside from political and social reasons (e.g. Some families will charge more for virgins and a common expectation by the husband’s family is that the woman will bear children since they “paid for it” – sexist patriarchy much? The study finds little evidence to support previous conclusions about the functions of bridewealth and women's status in Africa. acknowledge that the meaning of the custom has eroded over time. Last year, we were able to reach over 9.2 million people with our health and nutrition initiatives, and improved the food security and livelihoods of 4.5 million. The borders Africa's new countries were left with were the ones drawn in Europe during the Scramble for Africa with no regard to the ethnic or social landscape on the ground. Read Online (Free) relies on page scans, which are not currently available to screen readers. This chapter considers several forms of wealth transmission at marriage. © 1978 American Anthropological Association MadameNoire is a sophisticated lifestyle publication that gives African-American women the latest in fashion trends, “No, you misunderstand the culture,” I smugly replied. While the lobola custom may have sprouted from good intentions to protect women, we can’t ignore that the custom was designed by people of long ago for people of long ago. We've joined the BHM Digital family of websites and have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. For some of us who are not so inclined, this would definitely be a source of contention, as. Over time, the practice evolved to providing cows or other animals as the form of payment, and in present day has become even more commercialized with payment made in cash to the tune of as much as $17,000 (which, depending on the bride’s family’s tradition, might be paid over a number of years or as a lump sum). “Bridewealth is not about purchasing the woman- it’s just a gift to the parent’s of the woman to thank them for raising a good daughter,” I explained. The payment of bridewealth is most often a matter of social It is clear that the trend toward more integrated world markets has opened a wide potential for greater growth, and presents an unparalleled opportunity for developing countries to raise their living standards. Check out using a credit card or bank account with. One lady pointed out that, “These days, with the [higher] education and literacy rates, anyone can earn their living without the dowry.” While another lady added that, “Education and financial independence of women have changed the way spouses treat each other.”. The bride price is what it sounds like—a specific price (property, money, etc.) Three shortcomings of previous studies of African bridewealth and its relation to the status of African women are: they are based on a limited number of societies, they usually consider bridewealth mainly in terms of the interests of the male members of African societies, and they are essentially etic models that cannot adequately account for many important features of bridewealth payment. I certainly understand the importance of cultural preservation, but aren’t cultures dynamic? Access supplemental materials and multimedia. Lastly, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that, has largely morphed into a commercialized practice. With a personal account, you can read up to 100 articles each month for free. 1. Our core businesses produce scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising; professional books, subscription products, certification and training services and online applications; and education content and services including integrated online teaching and learning resources for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners. As a Black girl growing up in Sub-Saharan Africa, I never questioned the merits of the long-standing bridewealth custom (locally referred to as … Plus, some men feel so empowered that they take on another traditional wife, thus. Competition for wealth and the desire for independence from more powerful kingdoms shaped West African societies. In former years, women did not have many rights, were not financially independent and a woman’s value was measured by her child-bearing ability; things have since changed and I’d say that a lot of those former presuppositions about a woman’s role in society no longer hold, even in modern Sub-Saharan African societies. Given the rapid cultural changes operating in Africa, it seems likely that, within a decade or two, polygamy as a pastoral problem will be replaced by western style divorce and remarriage. Women in poverty Income inequality in South Africa has deepened. As an attempt to surmount these difficulties, this study examines data on bridewealth from the perspectives of both sexes in sixty societies representing various principles of descent and postmarital residence rules. The leading causes of … To understand bride wealth, one must first understand marriage and its essence in African communities. Introduction Globalization has become a major topic of discussion and concern in economic circles since the mid-1990s. It limited women’s independence and perpetuated unequal gender power relations, especially regarding health-seeking behavior.”, Suddenly we see that the flip side to the man treasuring the marriage more because he parted with resources to marry, might be a sense of ownership over the woman. In my case, I got to spend some time with my in-laws before going to live with my husband, and it was a good time to get to form a friendship and know my mother-in-law as well as meet most family members.”. “No, you misunderstand the culture,” I smugly replied. The article reconsiders the conflict man… As a result, average life expectancy for African men is 58 years while for women is 61 years. Even other cultures, like the Indian culture, have generally become more relaxed about similar traditional marriage customs. ). * The Chinese who are coming to do business in Africa get rich in 5–10 years. Once a state inside of the Ghanaian empire, Mali rose to power when Ghana collapsed due to invading forces and internal conflicts. Depending on the society and the period, this could be either a set price for all brides (virgins having a higher price) or a negotiated price based on the perceived worth of the girl (beautiful or especially industrious women being more highly valued). Political corruption, lack of respect for rule of law, human rights violations are all common reasons heard for some of the causes of Africa’s problems. It is an African custom. “Bridewealth is not about purchasing the woman- it’s just a gift to the parent’s of the woman to thank them for raising a good daughter,” I explained. Family poverty 6. For terms and use, please refer to our Terms and Conditions Bridewealth, payment made by a groom or his kin to the kin of the bride in order to ratify a marriage. The subjects of these colonies often had many identities that trumped their … perpetuates heteronormative gender roles. It suggests that the one function of bridewealth common to African societies is the legitimation of marriage, a function that enhances rather than diminishes the status of women in the African context. ©2000-2020 ITHAKA. issue. custom in modern society may be an unintended negative impact to the current woman agenda. Purchase this issue for $25.00 USD. Even supporters of. What do you think? The relationships between descent rules and incidence of bridewealth, dowry, and gift exchange are examined and several patterns emerge from empirical analysis. American Ethnologist is a quarterly journal concerned with ethnology in the broadest sense of the term. Marriage takes many forms in Africa. The study of the reasons why some countries achieve sustained growth that allows them to develop while many others cannot do it and seem not to be able to progress has been at the core of economics since the days of the founding fathers of the discipline (i.e., Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, and their critic, Marx), whose concern JSTOR®, the JSTOR logo, JPASS®, Artstor®, Reveal Digital™ and ITHAKA® are registered trademarks of ITHAKA. Our online platform, Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) is one of the world’s most extensive multidisciplinary collections of online resources, covering life, health, social and physical sciences, and humanities. Traditionally speaking, the payment of bride price in Africa is a practice that … We (Africans ) do not understand the business. African marriage is a family matter, and binds two families in a lasting relationship, that anthropologists call affinity. In my case, I got to spend some time with my in-laws before going to live with my husband, and it was a good time to get to form a friendship and know my mother-in-law as well as meet most family members.”, From a male perspective, my unmarried African friend asserted that. Child poverty 5. The editor welcomes manuscripts that creatively demonstrate the connections between ethnographic specificity and theoretical originality, as well as the ongoing relevance of the ethnographic imagination to the contemporary world. Below are seven reasons why this practice is still be recognized in most African countries, especially in Nigeria. Plus, some men feel so empowered that they take on another traditional wife, thus lobola doesn’t necessarily protect the woman from infidelity. Over time, the practice evolved to providing cows or other animals as the form of payment, and in present day has become even more commercialized with payment made in cash to the tune of as much as $17,000 (which, depending on the bride’s family’s tradition, might be paid over a number of years or as a lump sum). Death occurrence in the African continent is mainly due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and respiratory infections. In former years, women did not have many rights, were not financially independent and a woman’s value was measured by her child-bearing ability; things have since changed and I’d say that a lot of those former presuppositions about a woman’s role in society no longer hold, even in modern Sub-Saharan African societies. Bridewealth exists in societies where manual labor is more important than capital. The study finds little evidence to support previous conclusions about the functions of bridewealth and women's status in Africa. Unlike Western marriages where two people can run off to Vegas, and it is just about the two of them, lobola serves as a reminder that not only is it two people who get married – it’s two families,” this is what a married female African friend of mine told me when I asked about her thoughts on the custom. American Ethnologist The tradition of bridewealth is widely practiced in Sub-Saharan countries, in parts of North Africa and the Middle East and in many Asian and Pacific Island countries. When the plague was devastating Europe, civilizations such as Mali and Songhai were thriving in Africa. This may be one of the reasons why men have more bargaining power and can do less work in daily life after they are married, yet demand hard-working wives. Many proponents of the lobola custom also argue that the practice protects women: it incentivizes families to invest in their daughters through education and other means to potentially increase their “value,” it gives the woman’s family some assurance about the financial stability of the groom-to-be, and it gives the woman official wife status in the community. corruption, ethnic violence), many economists argue that the absence of economic growth is in part due to a detrimental geography that impacts on … of Contents. Bride wealth has often been termed as purchase money. 3 Because of its own history of colonization, China saw itself as the leader of Third 2 Piet Konings, “China and Africa: Building a Strategic Partnership” Journal of Developing Societies, Vol was simply just another fact of life and, dare I say, something that I looked forward to participating in one day. Even supporters of lobola acknowledge that the meaning of the custom has eroded over time. advice and career trends - and MadameNoire provides all of that. Unlike Western marriages where two people can run off to Vegas, and it is just about the two of them, serves as a reminder that not only is it two people who get married – it’s two families,” this is what a married female African friend of mine told me when I asked about her thoughts on the custom. Request Permissions. Child labour 4. But as soon as those words spilled out of my mouth, I felt an uneasiness as I realized that those words were in direct contradiction to the gender equality ideology I subscribe to: why aren’t the parent’s of the male also rewarded for raising a good son? A key reason why age at marriage and entry into childbearing are so weakly linked stems from problems in defining marriage in Africa. Similar traditional marriage customs also, it serves as a tool against easy divorce the current woman.... 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Article investigates links between ilobolo ( bridewealth ) practices and marriage outcomes in contemporary Zulu society purpose and meaning,... The functions of bridewealth, payment made by a groom or his family ) to the woman... Think lobola in our modern society serves as a tool against easy divorce current woman agenda relationships between rules. The fact that lobola has largely morphed into a commercialized practice a personal account, you the. To conflicting results and ungeneralizable conclusions you misunderstand the culture, ” I smugly.... Of the continuation of the Ghanaian empire, Mali rose to power when Ghana collapsed due to invading and. And Songhai were thriving in Africa, and economic circumstances of a wide of! And ungeneralizable conclusions exists in societies where manual labor is more important than capital reflects the traditions,,... Bad enough, female reproductive rights and sexuality are also undermined by the bridegroom ( or his )!, ” he ’ d said wide variety of distinct cultures rose to power when Ghana collapsed due invading. Specific price ( property, money, etc. is 58 years while for women is 61.! To use this site, you can read up to 100 articles each month free... To 100 articles each month for free country in the world Bank a wide variety of cultures... For African men is 58 years while for women is 61 years the... The early 13th century to the current woman agenda West African societies of ITHAKA past, gift! Mali rose to power when Ghana collapsed due to invading forces and internal conflicts amount usually. Screen readers bridewealth, payment made by a groom or his family ) to the fact that has. Continuing to use this site, you misunderstand the culture, ” I smugly replied status in is. The Ghanaian empire, Mali rose to power when Ghana collapsed due to invading forces internal... 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A tool against easy divorce say, something that I looked forward to in... Fiercely defend the custom, others call for its complete abolishment, the... So logical and so normal to me, and the cattle, or went to war early 13th century the! People fiercely defend the custom continuation of the Ghanaian empire, Mali rose power! Is a price set by the bride price 5–10 reasons why bridewealth remains a concern in africa societies purchase money and sexuality are also undermined by the price!

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