Gender Gender

Bride price cited for ‘why some men fail to marry’

GENDER FOCUS with EMELDA MWITWA
This week, I continue with readers’ views to the article titled ‘Why some men fail to marry: readers’ views.’
Dear Emelda,
Allow me to contribute something as a father of six, who has been married for 26 years.
First of all, I think we need to protect the institution of marriage by making bride price acceptable and affordable. If we get to a situation where young men fail to pay, there will be no marriage in society. There is no need of marrying off our daughters at high price. Love is immeasurable; you can’t quantify it in monetary terms. In the old times, bride price was quite modest because it was just a way of appreciating the bride’s parents for the values they instilled in her. The values are simply those traits that make a woman a distinguished personality – a good wife and custodian of water and fire.
In communities where people were rearing cattle, bride price amounted to one cow or two. Sometimes the bride’s family would only ask for beads as a symbol of value.
But over the years, bride price has been commercialised because people consider things that would raise their standard of living. It’s quite strange because both the parents of the girl and boy spend a lot of money to raise children.
There are many reasons why marriage has come under threat and why some men seem not interested.
For instance, children who come from broken families will not see the benefits of marrying. Other people are discouraged by men and women who cheat on their spouses. So as married people, we need to be mindful of the lifestyle that we model to our children.
I feel most of the time, young ladies are serious about marriage; it’s the men who don’t approach them for serious engagement. There are some men who are scared of commitment, and those who want to flirt with well-to-do women. Sometimes men aged between 30 and 38 are hooked to rich women and you will see them driving the woman’s car.
My advice to young men is that marriage is a good thing, but do not look for a perfect person because you won’t find any. If you are looking for perfection, be perfect yourself. Marry for love, then you will understand a woman and learn how to live with her
Lastly, a husband must be responsible, and not push his obligations to a woman. The Bible says a man should provide and a woman should be a helper. In my view, this means a man should provide 75 percent and a woman should contribute about 25 percent. It’s not good for a man to pester a woman for money.
Emmanuel Genesis Mashowo,
Lusaka.
***
Dear Emelda,
Thanks for amplifying on what Feni wrote on ‘why some men fail to marry.’ While I agree with some of what Feni wrote, I don’t agree with his emphasis on bride price as being the reason why some men fail to marry. Most people don’t really understand the issue of bride price and the processes of payment.
First and foremost, bride price is not lobola, and sadly many people have that misconception. Lobola has nothing to do with bride price – in a matrilineal set-up, it is paid after marriage for the children that a woman bears for her husband. Lobola is not fixed, it is negotiable. Bride price is the token a man pays to the parents of his future wife.
The payment is broken into different parts and payment is required before the marriage takes place. If you happen to marry in matrilineal tribes, you will be required to make these segmented payments.  The first payment is the dowry, while the second payment involves buying clothes that the girl’s parents will wear on the wedding day.
The groom buys an outfit for his father-in-law, a chitenge for his mother-in-law called icikakanyemba in Bemba, including other clothes that she would wear on that day. For the Tongas, the father of the bride may even get money for shaving his beard to look smart on that day. The bride needs new clothes, besides the wedding dress.
The third payment may involve chickens, a goat, hoes, axes, beans, dried fish and other items that the bride’s  family may ask for before the wedding day.
Today, most of these items are converted into monetary terms and that is the reason why people have been having sleepless nights over bride price.
Bride price ought to be negotiable, and how much one pays depends on the knowledge and negotiating skills of a particular shibukombe (middleman).
The problem we have today is that most of the ba shibukombe do not understand how these payments should be done, and when the girl’s parents start making demands, they get lost. One should know why the girl’s parents are asking for certain things.
The issue of overcharging the groom because the bride’s parents spent a lot on her education is a weak point and does not hold water.
From my experience as a shibukombe, there are other reasons why some men may not marry, despite women being available.  As a chief shibukombe, I will give you the main reasons.
Men who were dragged into marriages which they were not ready for, tend to share information about challenges and difficulties they are going through with their friends.
This is what scares other men who may think that marriage is not worth the experience.
People who go through challenges in their unprepared-for and unwanted marriages have, without knowing, done a lot to discourage their colleagues from marrying.
No matter how much money a man earns, if fed with such information, he will keep playing hide-and-seek in marriage issues. Secondly, mothers and sisters of some unmarried men contribute by being too possessive.
Some people will feed their son or brother with negative information about the woman he wants to marry. Thirdly, some men are simply playful and scared of taking up responsibilities that come with marriage. Sometimes suitors are put off by women who demand expensive things during courtship.
There are women who put men under so much pressure that some men end up stealing from their employers. Some men are in jail for going extra miles to please materialistic women.
The other reason why women feel cheated is because some men have a habit of double-crossing girls. There are men who are just greedy, serial womanisers, bent on wasting women’s time.
All the problems that I have mentioned can be dealt with given good counselling by gifted and experienced counsellors.
Emmanuel Chungu Senior, Chief Shibukombe.
***
Hi Emelda,
I agree with the views of Cindy Muleya about how women have come to assume the roles of bringing up children and providing for their families. It seems in the informal sector, we have more enterprising women than men. The women are determined to do odd jobs when the worst comes to worst, and it is sad that sometimes men just sit by and watch.
Doreen K Munalula.
***
Dear Emelda,
There are a lot of reasons why eligible men seem not interested in marriage. To start with, it is difficult to find a decent girl to marry because women of today are different from what our mothers were. Men want a respectful woman; no sensible man wants to marry a woman who disrespects him.
Sometimes, church doctrines which forbid their members from marrying from different churches have also contributed to the large number of single men and women.
Overall, parents are the worst culprits in this matter because of the price tag they put on their daughters. This is the reason why some men barter their wives out of bitterness for ‘buying’ the woman at high price.
Regards,
Moses A Phiri.
With these views, for now, I close the chapter on this matter.
eshonga@daily-mail.co.zm/ emeldashonga@yahoo.com. Phone 0211-221364/227793.

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