Lobola practice is an age long tradition among the Xhosas. It is aimed at bringing two families together through marriage; developing mutual respect and showing that a woman's future husband is capable of financially supporting his wife. "Lobola is meant to be a token that unites two African families whose sons and daughters are coming together in marriage (Madikwe, 2012)".
The main purpose of this study was to investigate whether the lobola practice has been distorted or commercialised. It also investigated the correlation between such distortion and the rate of cohabitation in the Xhosa society today. It further considered ways of assisting victims of lobola distortions that are broken hearted to find inner healing and courage to face the future.
A qualitative research design was used in this study. Gerkin's method of pastoral care of shepherding and Pollard's model of evangelism called positive deconstruction were employed in the research methodology. A total of 35 participants were engaged in this study as respondents to the researcher's questionnaire. These respondents covered the categories of the Unmarried, Parents, Clergy and the Married and provided the researcher an all-encompassing view of the research topic. The received responses were analysed thematically.
Based on the responses of the participants, the study found that a considerable negotiated lobola settlement cost can help many men settle their lobola and thereby reduce the level of cohabitation in our society. Also, the study did not find enough evidence to suggest that lobola settlement practice has been generally distorted or commercialised. Though, there were indications which points to the fact that African cultural belief of lobola practice is under severe attack due to the influence of Western cultural beliefs and ideologies. Lastly, it was found that only a considerate negotiated lobola settlement that is based on the income and prospects of the groom and not just only that of the bride that will pave way for many men to settle their lobola and get married. A pastoral care model was also formulated to take care of those who were emotionally bruised as a result of the issues of lobola settlement to find inner healing and regain self worth.
In line with the findings above, this study recommends that lobola stakeholders should reconsider their criteria for determining lobola settlement cost to incorporate the income level, prospects and behaviour of the groom as factors that will allow for discounts in such processes. This could be a motivation for most of the men to start behaving well in the society and make our communities more habitable. Also, the pastoral care and counselling fraternity should arise and play the vital role of providing succour for those who were emotionally bruised to enable them find inner healing.
Dissertation (MA (Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2017.