Whose Lobola Is It Anyway?

Standard

For those of you who do not know, lobola is a dowry or bride price that is given to the bride’s family by the groom’s. The word encompasses a marriage custom that has been practised in Africa for generations and has evolved as society has changed.

I recently attended a relative’s lobola ceremony where we were representing the bride’s side of the family. It was only the second time that I had been a part of one and it was both a pleasant and an unpleasant experience. And it made me think. I want to raise some issues that the custom brings up and would love your engagement on them.

The benefit and cost of lobola

Every custom and traditional practice serves a purpose for that particular group of people that observes it. Or at least it is supposed to. Traditionally, lobola has been one of the ceremonies that forms a part of the process of solemnising a marriage as well as bringing the two families together. From beginning to end, there are steps that must be followed and ways of doing things that are very specific. For example, there are certain people who can attend the negotiation and presentation ceremonies and others who are excluded. The groom’s family should be especially careful to perform their obligations lest they offend the bride’s family.

There is a blessing and a curse in lobola. It is blessing because it provides a framework within which a couple can make their relationship official, before those closest to them and before the world. This, in contrast to the “hook up” culture that prevails amongst us today.  Very importantly, it makes sure that both people know the family that they are marrying into, which ensures that the couple will not be isolated.

On the other hand, the focus on the idea that two families are coming together, while promoting a sense of community, can take away from the fact that it is actually two people coming together. I have countless stories of people whose marriages were wrecked because of interference from parents, aunts and uncles. Every decision that the couple has to make must pass through the family council first and needs their approval.

The role of women and men

A very large number of women today have been raised in single parent households, usually by their mother. And yet the process today is still dominated by male family members who consult with other family members but ultimately are in charge of making the decisions. There is a share of the bride price and gifts that is given to the mother of the bride but the father as the head of the household, receives most of it on behalf of the the family.

I attended a ceremony where the father acted as the father of the bride even though he had made no contribution to the raising of his daughter. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I think it is worth saying that I have no issue with a father occupying a position of honour per se but I think that, in that situation, he occupies a position that he is not entitled to. And it just looks like he is showing up at the end for the financial benefits. Surely there is something wrong with this?

I am also struck by the fact that in these kinds of ceremonies, women occupy a subservient position. And regrettably, it is not just at events such as this but is a prominent feature of our culture. The men sit in the house waiting to be served while the women slave away all day- peeling, chopping, cooking, cleaning and minding the children. The men discuss important matters and call for more beer every once in a while. Someone suggested that in times gone by, the men were probably in charge of slaughtering the livestock, chopping the wood etc, but convenience has changed things.

But if things have changed for men why do women still bear most of the burden?

Tradition for tradition’s sake?

There are so many more issues I could raise, like overcharging by families, made being delayed because families cannot agree and the culture clash that arises as a result of mixed marriages. What do you think?

Is lobola important to you?

Do you plan on observing it when you get married, do you have a choice?

Finally, has lobola lost it’s meaning or does it serve a legitimate purpose today?

Thanks for reading.
Shula

Advertisements

Motivation Monday :: 14 powerful truths you need to hear right now

Standard

“I was here, I lived, I loved. I was here.” Beyoncé

image

Thank God it’s Motivation Monday! For most people Monday is a downer because it means we’re going back to doing things that we have to do, away from things that we want to do. Inevitably, we will encounter people and situations that will leave us feeling discouraged and demotivated.

Staying motivated and encouraged is a discipline – a mental and spiritual one. Starting in December, every morning my mom, sister and I do a Bible reading, a short discussion and a prayer. It’s amazing what something so simple can do for the your day! Last year, I began the discipline of actively reminding myself of certain truths, usually out loud, when I feel like my heart is starting to get discouraged.

Most of these truths are things that I found in the Bible and are things that I have sensed God reminding me of in those times when I really need it.

Today and for the rest of the year, I am reminding myself that:

1. I am loved and wanted.

2. I am not a slave to people’s opinions of me.

3. I am quick to forgive.

4. I am difficult to offend.

5. I was created for a purpose.

6. I am not afraid.

7. I am forgiven.

8. I am chosen not rejected.

9. I am not defined by my past.

10. I am capable of love.

11. I am beautiful.

12. I am seen, not invisible.

13. I am unique.

14. I am courageous.

Be encouraged, today is going to be a good day!

Thanks for reading.
Shula

The Art of Saying What You Need to Say :: to the friend who takes and never gives

Standard

“Take, take, take but you never ever give.”

Bruno Mars

If you are reading this then you have a friend who takes and never gives. This is the friend who will call you at 3AM to be picked up when they know you have an interview first thing the next morning. Or the one that, even though you are always there for them, disappears into thin air when you need them the most. You love this friend to bits but you have reached your breaking point in the friendship and want out or want things to change. Here is what you need to say:

“Friend, I love you and you know that you can ask me for anything. But when you do, please respect my boundaries and my decisions about whether I will or will not do something.”

Here is what you are communicating:

I love you means that you value the person and the relationship. This is your way of affirming the fact that they have a place in your heart and you see them in your future. Start off with this.

You know that you can ask me for anything is something that you need to say because your friend needs to know that you are the kind of person they ask for anything – you are approachable and open and safe.

But you have boundaries and these need to respected. All relationships need terms of engagement. Every relationship needs boundaries. Your friend needs to know that, although they are always free to ask, there are things that you cannot or will not do for them, simply because you choose not to. And that is okay. Remember, you are not your friend’s saviour and it is okay for you to allow them to live with the consequences or the choices that they make, you do not always have to swoop in and be the hero. Remember, it is okay for you to want your own space, it is acceptable for you to say “No” without feeling like you will be rejected.

I hope this gives you the motivation to have a little chat with your friend that takes but never gives.

Any thoughts?

shula

Motivation Monday :: Overcoming Anxiety

Standard

The first hour of my Monday morning is probably the worst hour of the week for me. When I finally get around to getting up I cannot help but start thinking about all the things I need to get done by the end of the week, some of which are tasks I had on my to do list last week. I start to feel overwhelmed by this list that just keeps growing. And then I start thinking about my future and worrying if I am never going to get the job I need when I leave University. Everything comes at me all at once in that hour : a relationship that is not going great, a large unpaid debt, my growing mountain of laundry…

Do you know the feeling?

Anxiety can creep in so easily and can paralyze us if we don’t learn to manage it.

Here are some thoughts on how to overcome anxiety:

1. Put your anxieties into words.
Getting our fears out in words is important for bringing out the internal dialogue. I have found that speaking to a friend helps me to process stuff and also makes me feel less isolated, I need to know that I’m not dealing with stuff on my own. It also helps bring perspective to the situation because they are not overcome with the emotion of it all. Journaling and talking out loud (yes!) helps too.

If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, you may need to ask for help! By this I mean help in dealing with anxiety as well as practical help to get what you need to get done. If a task has become unmanageable, get some guidance or share the load with someone. As a Christian I believe in prayer and follow the Philipians 4v6 command to “make your requests known to God.”

2.Work hard and Rest.
These two need to go together. We need to practise a cycle of pushing ourselves to work hard and then resting as necessary. We should not fall too close to one extreme.

I’ve found that when I’m physically fatigued I’m more vulnerable to anxious thoughts and cannot handle the mental pressure. When I’ve been lazy I start feeling stuck and struggle to get back into my work, which makes me feel anxious. There is some discipline needed here, a topic I wrote about last week.

3.Celebrate.
Do you ever take time to enjoy the fact that you got something done or do you quickly move on to the next thing you have to worry about? This is a sure way to stay demotivated. Learn the discipline of celebrating when you have done well, take some time out to reflect on how far you’ve come, particularly when you’re starting to feel anxiety about the future rising. When was the last time you wrote a list of what you were thankful for? Put that list next to your to do list. When I feel anxious I try and avoid negative people and make a point of spending time with encouraging people who celebrate me!

This week may you find peace that goes past your anxieties. Happy Monday!

Thank you for reading.
shula.

Motivation Mondays:: Discipline, How To Get the Results You Really Want

Standard

If you are reading this then you probably struggle with discipline, or perhaps you’re just procrastinating? Procrastination is something else, of course. The question that changed the way I think about discipline is this : “Can you make yourself do something you don’t want to do in order to get a result you really want?” (Andy Andrews). The answer to that question is : Yes we can! We may hate the process but we need to let the end result be our motivation to stay committed and be consistent.

This is something I learned from Michael Hyatt in his podcast How To Develop More Discipline. In this episode he outlines steps that we can take, starting today, to help us get more disciplined. His advice is very practical and down to earth and he shares his own struggles with discipline and strategies on how to overcome them. He even has some handy tips for those of us who are trying to get healthier and to lose weight.

If you do not already, I would like to encourage you to listen to Michael Hyatt’s podcasts and follow his blog. I shared another one of his podcasts last Monday.  He has some invaluable wisdom and his stuff is seriously life- changing!

Happy Monday! Have a great start to your week!

Thank you for reading.
shula

“Being realisti…

Quote

Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity… Why would you be realistic? What’s the point of being realistic? It just seems like such a ridiculous idea to me to embrace this idea that it’s not going to happen or that it’s not real. The moment you decide to be “realistic,” you can pretty much guarantee that voice will dominate and it won’t happen. ” Will Smith

I heard this quote in a Michael Hyatt podcast that I would like to encourage you to listen to – it changed the way I think about myself, my future and what falls within the realms of possibility. The biblical truth that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23v7) shows us just how powerful our thought life is in shaping what we are able to achieve. I listened to this podcast until I had the seven steps memorized!

For some motivation this Monday check this out:

Seven Steps to Thinking Bigger by Michael Hyatt (Podcast)

Seven Steps to Thinking Bigger by Michael Hyatt (Podcast Transcript)

Thanks for reading.

shula.

Motivation Monday – Relationships are worth fighting for : 3 tactics

Standard

Yet another Monday has come upon us – wow! I am convinced that Monday comes around way faster than any other day! When a new week begins I always feel like it’s a chance for me to start again and I take advantage of it and make some new resolutions, especially relational ones.

Throughout this week, we’ll be hit with situations that will make us want to give up on our relationships – with our family, our friends, our colleagues at work. Some of us may still be carrying an offense or irritation in our hearts from past weeks. But we can start again because relationships are worth fighting for!

Here’s how:

1. Be on the offensive and choose to open up to people when all you want to do is withdraw.
Every relationship needs a degree of vulnerability, the degree depends on the nature of the relationship. Vulnerability is not the same as weakness. It’s about being genuine about who you are – your strengths and struggles. Vulnerability is not just for you, those around you need to see it, it makes you more relatable.

2. Resist the voice that tells you that you’re isolated and overlooked.
This lie is designed to make you alienate yourself from people, resist it. When I think of resistance, I see a picture of a rugby scrum, a team of men in the ready position, heads down, knees bent, ready to apply all force against the opponent. We need to take that stance with thoughts like these – continuous, steady force against lies that come against us.

3. Guard your heart fiercely with the knowledge that you’re loved,wanted and important.
Jesus said that the issues of life flow from the heart. Anything that comes out of you can be traced back to what’s going on in your heart. Great, healthy, loving relationships flow from a heart that is secure and filled with love. Remind yourself as often as you need to of the fact that you are loved by people and are desirable and let your relationships flow out of that place.

This week, decide who is most important to you in life and fight for that relationship!

Thanks for reading.
shula