The Dynamics of Bride Price in Zimbabwe and the UK Diaspora

by Ottis Mubaiwa

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“The dynamics of Bride Price in Zimbabwe and the UK” by Dr. Ottis Mubaiwa makes a significant contribution to the body of literature on contemporary gender issues. This is a well-written, academic stimulating, and informative book. It investigates the bride price phenomenon in multi-dimensional ways by considering the dynamics, not only in terms of continuity and change but also how this age-long traditional practice is presented and represented in Zimbabwe and the diaspora. The original traditional symbolism of bride price and the subsequent commercialization of the practice remain some of the thought-provoking ideas elucidated by the author. The book has the capacity of taking a brilliant African mind back to the root as well as triggers a pressing need to look back enough through a rear mirror, as a requisite for achieving the long-desired future where gender equality is a norm. The book captures the changes that had visited bride price practice as indicators of changes within gender relations in society. The author has shown clearly, how women consciously and unconsciously concede patriarchy by giving in to cultural pressures for tradition’s sake. The ability of the author to put a spin on the relationship between bride price and gender-based violence, especially against married women, is considered a springboard for a plunge into the major scholarly debate that will exercise the minds of gender scholars and Feminists. It is indeed a good read.

Dr Funmilayo Idowu Agbaje
Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), University of Ibadan, Nigeria


“The Dynamics of Bride Price” presents courageous transnational research data from Zimbabwe and the UK, highlighting a diversity of perceptions of the practice in different contexts across generations from a gendered and feminist perspective. The book argues that although the study findings are not conclusive, Bride Price encourages the commodification of women and thus reinforces the unequal and oppressive relationships between spouses in favour of the husband. This book is of key importance in beginning the process of transforming views on Bride Price and the lives of Zimbabwean women. The transnational nature of its investigation into the traditions of African marriage sets this book apart from existing studies and offers its readers the complications encountered in contemporary understanding of Bride Price across diverse contexts. This original contribution will be of great interest to those studying and teaching courses on Gender and Development, as well as researchers and policymakers of cultural practices.

Dr Maxwell C. C. Musingafi
Programme Coordinator (Development and Peace Studies)
Zimbabwe Open University, Zimbabwe

The tradition of Bride Price has been at the heart of marriage for many centuries in numerous cultures across the globe. The Dynamics of Bride Price presents new research data from Zimbabwe and the UK highlighting the transnational dimension of the practice, its diversity in different contexts and across generations, and its influence on the structure of gender relationships and inequalities.
The transnational element of its investigation into the institution and traditions of African marriage sets this book apart from existing study and offers its readers a nuanced and complex understanding of the perceptions and experiences of Bride Price across diverse contexts. This original contribution will be of great interest to those studying and teaching courses on Gender and Development, as well as researchers and policymakers of cultural practices.

List of Figures and Tables
Abbreviations and Glossary
Abstract
Acknowledgements

Chapter 1 Introduction
1.1 Importance of Bride Price
1.2 Justification for the Research
1.3 Reasons for My Interest in this Area of Research
1.4 Intimate Partner Violence in Zimbabwe
1.5 Book Structure
1.6 Conclusion: The Dynamics of Bride Price

Chapter 2 Approaches to Researching Bride Price
2.1 Aims and Methods
2.2 The Analytical Approach and its Theoretical Motivations
2.3 Gender
2.4 Intersectionality
2.5 The Research Approach
2.6 Semi-Structured Interviews
2.7 Ethical Issues
2.8 Research Locations
2.9 Sampling
2.10 Limitations
2.11 Self-reflexivity & Translation
2.12 Conclusion

Chapter 3 Contextualizing Bride Price: From the Global to the Local
3.1 The History of Bride Price: Where and Why it is Practised
3.2 A Comparison with Dowry
3.3 The Anthropological Literature on Bride Price
3.4 Context of Zimbabwe: the Shona and Ndebele People
3.5 Cultural Background of Marriage in Zimbabwe
3.6 Patterns of Migration within Zimbabwe
3.7 Functions of Bride Price in the Anthropological Literature
3.8 The Impact of Modernisation and Migration on Bride Price
3.9 Payment of Bride Price in Contemporary Zimbabwe
3.10 Conclusion

Chapter 4 Post-colonial Theories, the Ecology Model & Bride Price
4.1 The Post-Colonial Feminist Lens
4.2 Applying the Critiques of Narayan to Feminist Debates on Bride Price
4.3 The Social Ecology Model
4.4 Masculinity & Femininity
4.5 Linking Bride Price and Social Class
4.6 The Ecology Model and Intersectionality
4.7 Applying the Ecology Model to Bride Price in Zimbabwe
4.8 Conclusion

Chapter 5 Cultural, Religious and Gendered Dimensions of Bride Price
5.1 Participants’ Perceptions and Views on Bride Price
5.2 A Sign of Honour
5.3 The Commercialisation of Bride Price
5.4 Commodification of Women
5.5 Data and Theoretical Contradictions
5.6 Is Culture a Force for Evil?
5.7 Religion, the Bible, and Bride Price
5.8 Conclusion

Chapter 6 Comparing the Three Contexts: Bride Price and Harm
6.1 The Diaspora and Urban and Rural Families in Zimbabwe
6.2 The Practice and Logistics of Lobola
6.3 Changes in the Amount Given Over Time
6.4 Women’s Contribution to Lobola
6.5 Some Reasons for the Increase in Lobola
6.6 Bride Price & Different Forms of Harm
6.7 Connection between Bride Price and Gender Inequality
6.8 Linking Bride Price with Violence
6.9 Linking Bride Price with Class
6.10 Conclusion

Chapter 7 Conclusion: The dynamics of Bride Price
7.1 Summary of Findings
7.2 Shifting Gender Relations and Family Structures
7.3 Bride Price Across Contexts
7.4 Bride Price, Migration & Modernisation
7.5 Gender Relations at the Household Level
7.6 Policy and Practice Recommendations
7.7 Directions for Future Research
7.8 A Final Word

Bibliography
Index

Dr Ottis Mubaiwa is a Teaching Fellow in International Development Studies at the University of Portsmouth. He is a Social Anthropologist who researches violence against women and girls, gender inclusion, and the intersections of culture and development.

Bride Price, Post-colonial feminist theory, Harmful Cultural Practices, Three context research

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
The Dynamics of Bride Price in Zimbabwe and the UK Diaspora
ISBN
978-1-62273-817-5
Edition
1st
Number of pages
222
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
Illustrations
5 B&W
Publication date
October 2020
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