Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lobola-Traditional Wedding

So we have been in Botswana for nearly 4 years now and I think we attended the most fun/interesting event we have ever been to last Saturday (July 27). The pastor or in Setswana moruti (mo-roo-tee) at the church we attend invited us to be a part of his family for the day and experience the traditional wedding of his son. This event is only for married couples, aunts, and uncles of the to be bride and groom.

Preparation for this day began a couple of months prior when the groom and his uncles approach the brides uncles about what would be an adequate price for him to pay to the brides family to marry her. The brides family normally ask for cattle but they can ask for blankets, suits, or even money since some families live in the city and don’t have a place for cattle. The brides family in this instance asked for 12 cattle and upon negotiation, it was decided that the grooms family would offer 10 cattle for the bride.

The day began upon arrival at 5:30am at the grooms place and the groom and all of his uncles and male representatives from his family had to arrive before daylight at the brides place where the uncles and male family representatives all were waiting. They grooms family come in and traditionally go down on one knee and ask to enter (pictured below and seen from the grooms sides perspective). The brides family then welcomes the men and allows them to sit in chairs. They talk and agree again upon the 10 cattle price for the bride. If they had not arrived before sunrise they will be locked out of the yard and the price of the bride will go up.


Below: The women waiting back at the brides place for the men to return. Grooms family with blue blankets on their shoulders and brides family with white blankets on their shoulders.


Above: Cooking in the traditional pots outside on the fire


Above: The ladies carry everything on their heads and the luggage on the aunts head of the groom was being taken as a gift from the groom to the bride.

Below: They enter the bride’s boma (small house/hut) and present the gift to the bride from the groom.


Above: The gifts from the groom to the bride consisted of a traditional blue dress for the wedding, shoes, 3 purple pillow, and a blanket.

Below: The bride


Above: The ladies visit the gentlemen to tell them that the bride has received her gifts.

Below: All representatives from the groom’s family heading to the bride’s family to hand over the ten cattle.


Above: The groom is in the front herding the cattle


Below: They again bow before the bride’s family and ask to enter and bring their gift.


Above: The 10 cattle

Below: After the exchange, the bride is then presented to both the woman and the men.



Above: The bride being presented to the men.

Below: Both the men and women join together and the traditional ceremony is held. The bride is presented with a ring. I am told this is  like an engagement. There will be a white wedding (or church wedding) in November and the village wedding up in northern Botswana will be held in December. BUT as well as we can understand, some married couples in Botswana just do the Lobola and they are then considered married.


After the ceremony, a big meal is then provided by the bride’s family to just the groom’s family. There is much dancing and singing. As you will see in the video, it is a time of joy. You will here the ladies doing a high pitched “la-la-la-la-la” and that is sort of like a clap. Taylor has perfected this sound pretty well.



Picture with the beautiful bride and her blue traditional dress.


Above: Taylor made a friend as usual. There were only 4 kids present as it is an adult activity, but it was so kind of them to invite our whole family.


After eating at the bride’s family, the groom’s family all go back to the groom’s family to report about the day and how well we were received. The groom’s mother and father are not allowed to attend any of the festivities of the day except for this part when the groom comes back. Everyone was so excited and danced him into the gate.


Above: The ladies reporting that we were received well today by the bride’s family.

Below: This is Mma Kabika, she is the mother of the groom, the pastor’s wife, and I am so blessed to have her as my friend and mentor. What a beautiful day and we are so thankful to be a part of it.



  1. Hello Turner Family,
    I am a freelance journalist writing an article on the topic of Lobola for a German print magazine.You have taken great photos and we'd be interested in printing them alongside the article. Id very much appreciate if you can contact me at
    Thanks so much!