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Tapman: Spouse for sale

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Winter is over, or almost over, and the mood is changing all around, but then again, so is the world.

In response to my article about the church not being sacred anymore, one gentleman I spoke to, “educated” me that dressing up should die a noble death, after all, women are no longer wearing wire corsets nor are men wearing breeches.

He then said, in Zimbabwe, if we were to go back to our true roots, we would be dressed down, wearing next to nothing in animal skin (nhembe). I see.

Talking about going back to our true cultural roots brings me to the sizzling topic of dowry.

A very popular DJ, known for discussing very explicit topics, asked his young following whether dowry should be a factor in marriages or not.

Gathering from the response, it seems that a lot of people, older generation included, have conveniently forgotten the real reason for dowry.

The general feeling is that dowry has now become a business venture so much so that now all of a sudden, bearing daughters is more lucrative than bearing sons.

Interestingly, in India (where it is the lady who pays dowry) a for-fun website was created which estimates how much a lady would be charged to marry her husband-to-be, depending on his profile.

Maybe we should adapt it for Zimbabwean ladies, because tall, dark and handsome doesn’t quite adequately capture essential criteria such as — character: hard Mashona type, Ex-se Ex-se or muNose; alcoholic preference: “7-days” homemade spirits, lager or imported whisky; dressing: shiny colourful suits, jeans or cargo pants and so forth.

Back to our DJ, very interesting comments regarding dowry were shared.

One gentleman declared that in this day and age of gender equality, the dowry system should be amended to reflect the 50-50 status that women are crying for. Therefore once the brides’ relatives have decided their astronomical figure, the bride contributes 50%, and the groom 50%. Beijing rules!

Another gentleman stated that since dowry now is being priced in much the same way as any commodity, he reserves the right to trade in, upgrade to a newer model or dispose of his purchase should it be troublesome, malfunctioning or “old”.

Traditionally dowry is paid as way of uniting families, and a way of thanking the bride-to-be’s parents for raising a woman, who would now take on the important role of being a wife and mother, thus continuing the groom’s bloodline through child bearing.

In addition dowry is meant to be a token amount or product paid to “compensate” the parents for taking away their child, who would have otherwise been helpful at home.

Is it the compensation part that has now become a skewed basis for this phenomenon of charging excessively high dowry “prices”, including true occurrences of future sons-in-law being charged up to $35 000.

I assume for safety one would have to hire cash-in-transit security companies to accompany them to the homestead or better yet travel with transfer forms lest they be robbed on the way.

In case you think that I am so backward that I should return to the good old days of barter trading, I do believe dowry should be charged, but a spouse-to-be must never be sold.

Does putting a high price tag inevitably make or break a marriage? Will the husband see his wife as a product or a lifetime partner?

Kindly email comments to oldschoolvalues@ymail.com.

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