I met Zweli* at university when I was 20 and he was 22. We dated for a while but broke up after a year when I moved to a different city. The first day he met me, he told me that he would marry me, but I brushed it off. Little did I know that it would happen a decade later.
We crossed paths once again at a mutual friend’s wedding. We were both single and we were at the peak of our careers. It just made sense for us to date again.
After dating for two years, we decided that we were ready to get married. As per tradition, his uncles went to my hometown to pay lobola to my parents. It was an exciting period for me and I was excited to finally be married to my prince, who I thought was the man of my dreams.
We decided to legally get married before both our white and traditional weddings, as we wanted to buy property together and officially live together before both weddings.
After four months of living together and planning both our weddings, our relationship hit rock bottom. I discovered that Zweli had always had a girlfriend and the infidelity affected our relationship. I can tolerate a lot of things but infidelity is not one of them. I immediately knew that our relationship would not work and filed for a divorce.
His family tried to intervene to mend the broken relationship, but my mind was already made up. When all attempts to salvage the failed relationship failed, Zweli was advised by one of his uncles to re-claim his lobola money back. It came as a surprise to me as the US$15 000 he paid for lobola was used as part of the deposit we paid for the house.
I was astonished because I never thought he would stoop so low.
Both our families had a meeting and to my surprise, most of his family members were against this lobola refund as it was against their culture. I later learned that his girlfriend was influencing him to ask for the money back.
Zweli’s reasoning behind it is that we weren’t even married for a year; therefore, he is entitled to his money. According to my lawyer, the US$15 000 is both our money because we used it as part of the deposit to our house and we were also married in community of property.
I believe that lobola is a token of appreciation to the bride’s parents and an opportunity to unite two families. It is non-refundable, especially since the marriage ended with no-fault on my part. We eventually got divorced.
Because we were married in community of property, we shared the assets we accumulated during our marriage, including the house and Zweli had no leg to stand on.
What’s your take on lobola refunds?
* Names changed