The Sunday News
Sibongile Ndiweni, Sunday Life Reporter
CAN a traditional wedding ceremony be complete without pictures of the lobola squad splashed everywhere on social media?
One might argue that the answer to that question is a resounding NO. Colourful snaps of the ceremony seem to overshadow the actual event itself.
Who wore what, who was part of the squad and who was left out? These are some of the questions that seem to accompany pictures of the latest ceremony captured on camera.
Lobola squads are the new norm that every young person fantasises about having when they are about to get married. It is in sharp contrast to old days, with older couples filling their photo albums with pictures of their white weddings while seemingly the lobola ceremonies were not thought to be worthy of a kodak moment.
However, while youths now treasure having their confidants in moments of glory, some argue that these very squads have contributed to the breakdown of many marriages. In the past, the lobola negotiation ceremony was considered to be an intimate sacred ceremony where only certain close family members could attend.
This was done in a manner that everything could be kept a secret as there would be a lot of disagreements from both the families during the negotiating process.
The bride’s family would be the one to wish good for the couple knowing that if the bride was ever to return from her marriage or chased away, it would not only embarrass them but bring shame upon the whole clan. Keeping the ceremony intimate would strengthen the relationship as only a few family members would know the “couple’s secrets|” and give building advice, keeping them together, while following the cultural values.
Nowadays however, things are not so black and white, with the lobola setting combining both modern and traditional values. It takes the form of themed events where those from the groom and bride’s sides wear attires that have a piece of traditional African material on it, with the bride’s home decorated, caterers hired along with photographers.
A team of friends is invited to make up the lobola squad, and the ceremony becomes as grand as a white wedding. And so, because of this, many go all out on their budget to try and please their friends as well as their social circles.
Forsaking their African tradition by making the ceremony a public event and inviting strangers in the form of friends who at times might not have their best interests at heart, traditionalists feel that many marriages become built on weak foundations.
The family secrets and disagreements are harvested by ears of the so-called close friends who go around spreading information about the two families and have the ability to destroy the relationship when friendships turn sour in future.
Social media has also been there to contribute to it as these people rely on the social media people’s comments to know if their day was a hit or if it became a good outcome for people to talk about.
Talking to Sunday Life, culturalist Dr Luyanduhlobo Makwati said he believes nothing is wrong in having lobola squads but the problem was in how the youths were forsaking their culture and making room for the people of social media to be the judge of their lives by posting everything that happens to them even in the private spaces of their marriage.
“Marriage is one of the oldest institutions in a society, and lobola has always required both the young and the old such that the old can guide and encourage the other young ones to get married.
Now it is very important that the elders who have been entrusted by the society to teach the young ones, make it their aim to cascade unfiltered cultural information down to the younger generation to create a strong foundation in marriages.
While for the younger generation, yes, it is good to go along with the modern times but in doing that, they should value their culture, know who they are and where they come from.
They should be aware that posting each and every event of their marriages on social media for the people to see comes with consequences which at most are negative because people are there to judge,” he said.