Lobola, A Bride's True Price?

Personal Documentary

Duration: 96 min
Language(s): English, SiSwati, isiZulu, isiXhosa, SeTswana, SeSotho, XiTsonga
Short Synopsis:

When an opinionated filmmaker agrees to marry her long-term boyfriend, she must decide if she will break with tradition and reject 'lobola”, a Bantu cultural practice that involves the prospective groom paying a ‘bride price’ to the family of the bride-to-be, or not.

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March 2014. Filmmaker Sihle Hlophe has just gotten engaged. A few days later, her father passes away.

Sihle is in a serious fix - who will receive the Lobola now that her father is no more? Sihle respects Lobola but she has reservations about the transactional, patriarchal and heteronormative elements of the practise. In an effort to learn more about Lobola before making her final decision, Sihle attends the Lobola ceremonies of three other couples.

Couple No.1 is a Zulu couple from Katlehong, Gauteng. The negotiations are almost halted when the groom’s family fails to raise the amount requested by the bride’s family.

Couple No. 2 is from Tokoza, Gauteng. The groom is Tsonga and the bride is Sotho. Their cultures collide during the negotiations, making it abundantly clear that they have different understandings of what Lobola is and how it should be conducted.

Couple No.3’s wedding took place in Eastern Cape but they're based in Kwa Zulu Natal. The bride is Xhosa and the groom is Zulu. Even though the bride’s father passed away 20 years ago, he was honoured as if he was alive during the proceedings. Sihle also visits a same-sex couple who've been married for 14 years.

They were the first couple to get married under the Civil Union Act in 2006. They're deeply rooted in African Spirituality so it was imperative for them to go through the Lobola process too. After years of vacillating, Sihle comes to an important realisation - Lobola is not just about uniting two families. It is also about honouring the ancestors of those two families. What will her final decision be? Will she turn her back on Lobola or will she embrace it?

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