November 22, 2012

‘Pay for damages’ (Ukuhlawulela Umntwana)

Nkanyiso Dlamini

My name is Nkanyiso Cedric Dlamini I am 22 years of age, born at KwaMashu but grew up at Inanda. At home we are a family of nine my dad and mum and seven children. I am the third born at home.

In the African or Zulu culture when a boy impregnates a girl before marriage his permitted to pay for damages to the girl’s parents. Straightaway after the parents are aware that the girl is pregnant, her mother accompanied by other women and girls almost the same age as the girl go the boy’s homestead to report the pregnancy. They all wake up early in the morning, while everybody is still sleeping another reason for this is for them to reach the boy’s homestead while they are sleeping. When they reach the boy’s homestead all the girls take off their tops to show their breasts so that it will be easy to recognise the pregnant girl.

But at home it was otherwise, my older sister who stays in Johannesburg fell pregnant in 2009 no one knew at home until she delivered the baby then it when she told us after delivering the baby. My father sent my mother to Johannesburg she came back with the baby and the news that the boy will come and pay for damages and cleans our home. Then in 2011 the boy decided to pay for the damages and cleanse my family. My father told my older brother and me that we will be part of the negotiation because my father does not have brothers anymore and our relatives are far away from us in Eastern Cape, so that why we were the part of the negotiations and also my uncle was part of it.

The boy sent his two representatives from his family they arrived around 11am my brother had to get them in town at the Durban station. When they came they greeted us and my uncle said we shouldn’t talk to them until they give us imvulamlomo (mouth opener to speak) price for opening your mouth. You do not need imvulamlomo if you are paying for damages unless it for lobola, but at home we wanted it. They gave us the money they putted it down on the flow and I counted it and nod with my head to say that it the correct amount, my dad started asking them that what brings them here and they said that their son sent them to pay for the damages and cleanse the family.

My dad said he want two cows and a goat, the first cows was to cleans the family and our surname the second cows was for the virginity and the goat was to cleans the girls who are still virgins. But the representatives were very persuasive they paid for two goat and one cow they made us understand said that the boy promised them that they will come back soon to lobola and we listened to them. My brother and I  we were clueless we just kept quite we couldn’t say anything, my brother was busy jotting  things down that we agree on and I was counting the money and hand it over to my father.

November 2012