If you have wondered how many cows your hand in marriage is worth, a new app may provide you with some important information–and more importantly, can you command More Cow (wedding) Bell.
Robert Matsaneng, a 26-year-old South African software developer, developed an app to measure how much Lobola the bride may expect from her potential suitor. Lobola is a custom in the Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi cultures where the bridegroom pays the family of the bride for her hand in marriage. Payment is made in the form of currency and live cows. The family of the bride sets the initial price.
Lobola is a significant aspect in these societies. In fact, the nephew of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, Khulubuse Zuma, for example, paid 100 cows to the family of the Swazi princess, Fikisiwe Dlamini.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Robert said that “right now it’s still for fun but if people feel that it can replace it [traditional haggling] then they can give it a crack,” the app’s maker told DW. The culture is too important to be replaced by the software, Matsaneng insisted, but perhaps it could complement it.
Among other elements the software uses to calculate a price, items include education, perceived beauty, and former marital statuses, with Robert adding: “You are presented with physical questions such as your height, your age, your weight and your waist size. From there it will ask you some personal questions including whether have you been married before, do you have children.”
The app reveals that a twenty five year old working woman who wears size thirty two pants, is five foot four inches tall and weighs one hundred twenty one pounds, has children, considers herself beautiful, but only possesses a high school diploma can ask for a lobola of five hundred dollars and no cows. But, the same characteristics with instead a higher education, no children and not previously married would be $4,000 and five cows.
Women’s rights activist Nomalanga Dlamini had what might be considered an unusual take on the app than what might be expected in the Western World. She believes the negotiations between the families would serve better than what can be derived using the app.
I think the traditional method is the best because, honestly, the app cannot predict what kind of a person you are or what kind of a wife you would make, whether you would be an honest wife, or would you be a cheat or stubborn or what, so the traditional way is the best. We are now living in a modern world we have to embrace it. It shows now that we are not going to be cheated since there will be a scientific way of calculating these bride price.”
It is at the very least an interesting melding of technology with tradition.
By Darren Smith
Source: Deutsche Welle
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