Zimbabwean “roora” or “lobola” customary wedding tradition

In Zimbabwe, a marriage tradition called lobola, or roora, binds couples and families together. Unlike a crass market transaction, lobola is a carefully constructed exchange. The groom’s family presents gifts – not a bride price – to the bride’s family. It’s a gesture of gratitude for raising their daughter and a formal welcome for the groom into their fold.

Lobola isn’t a singular act; it unfolds in stages. Appreciation for the bride’s upbringing might be expressed through one form of gift, while a separate token acknowledges the father of the bride. An additional sum serves as a formal entry fee for the groom into the family. The specific composition of lobola varies, reflecting the cultural and religious backgrounds of the families involved.

This tradition of offering a bride price extends beyond Zimbabwe’s borders. It’s a common thread woven through the social fabric of Southern Africa, present in countries like Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa. Nonetheless, the details might differ geographically, the core purpose remains constant: the groom respectfully seeks permission to marry the bride, and in doing so, fosters a union between the two families.