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Title: ‘Because it’s our culture!’ (Re)negotiating the meaning of lobola in Southern African secondary schools
Authors: Ansell, N
Keywords: Geography;Africa;Lobola;Gender;Youth
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: Routledge
Citation: Journal of Southern African Studies 27(4): 697-716
Abstract: Payment of bridewealth or lobola is a significant element of marriage among the Basotho of Lesotho and the Shona of Zimbabwe. However, the functions and meanings attached to the practice are constantly changing. In order to gauge the interpretations attached to lobola by young people today, this paper analyses a series of focus group discussions conducted among senior students at two rural secondary schools. It compares the interpretations attached by the students to the practice of lobola with academic interpretations (both historical and contemporary). Among young people the meanings and functions of lobola are hotly contested, but differ markedly from those set out in the academic literature. While many students see lobola as a valued part of ‘African culture’, most also view it as a financial transaction which necessarily disadvantages women. The paper then seeks to explain the young people’s interpretations by reference to discourses of ‘equal rights’ and ‘culture’ prevalent in secondary schools. Young people make use of these discourses in (re)negotiating the meaning of lobola, but the limitations of the discourses restrict the interpretations of lobola available to them.
Appears in Collections:Human Geography
Dept of Health Sciences Research Papers

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