A young man caused a stir in East London after he bolted out of lobola negotiation meeting, citing extortion. What was meant to be a sober session for elders discussing John Akhona’s appreciation to his prospective wife’s parents for raising her degenerated into a shouting match after the bride price was inflated.
Elders were left in shock after a furious Akhona banged tables and stormed out of the talks in protest, vowing that he was not going be robbed in broad daylight.
After cohabiting with his girlfriend for almost one year, Akhona decided to take the relationship to the next level — marriage. “I wanted things the old-fashioned way. I didn’t want to ‘live in sin’, especially now that my girlfriend is three months pregnant. I wanted to pay dowry and officially settle down, but her people seem to have had plans to extort me,” said Akhona when this writer caught up with him later.
As expected, the family was excited that their daughter was formally transiting into marriage. The duo agreed to plan so that their families could meet and settle the small matter of lobola. “Our families were already familiar with each other, seeing as some members had met on several occasions. What was remaining was lobola payment,” said Akhona.
As is the custom, Akhona tagged along two of his uncles among other elderly relatives to lead in the lobola negations. “At the back of my mind, I knew it was going to be a great day, going by the warm reception we had received at the home. Mark you this was not the first time we were visiting them, we have made other previous trips. The difference is that this time round we were going to negotiate lobola,” added Akhona.
That Akhona and his delegation had to pay ZAR 2000 as facilitation fee of sorts for the negations to begin not only irked him, but also fouled his mood. “That was followed by many other unnecessary fees and requirements that made me feel it was no longer bride price we were negotiating. They kept saying their daughter is well educated and they spent a lot of money on her education, as if my parents never went through same bother in taking me to school,” said a visibly angry Akhona.
Hell, however, broke loose when a lengthy list of unreasonable demands was produced, complete with a cash price. Overwhelmed by emotions, Akhona protested, asking emissaries from his prospective wife’s side to be realistic, considering he is not gainfully employed and his family isn’t that well off.
There was, however, an unimaginable breach of protocol when Akhona cut short an elder — who was putting up his case, explaining how the girl was their only daughter — to express his displeasure.
Push came to shove and Akhona unceremoniously left the talks, leaving his delegation and elders from his prospective wife’s side in shock. “It was terrible. Nothing annoys most unmarried young men like commercialisation of bride price. It is a kin to robbery without violence,” said Akhona, adding that after the dramatic collapse of talks, his wife to be still followed him days later and the two are still cohabiting.
“My only worry is that I really need her parent’s blessings, but for now my relationship with her people has deteriorated, so much that we can’t discuss anything meaningful. Only time will tell whether we will ever settle the dowry negotiations,” concluded Akhona.