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Covid-19 lockdown: How times have changed

21 Feb 2021 at 07:08hrs | Views
It was after four aborted attempts at assembling that customary team of amadombo, an attempt at receiving and meeting our prospective in-laws as a non-negotiable precondition to observe the cultural rite of lobola.

Zoom meetings are sinking in as a new normal in my world. I'm sure in yours too. As an organisational development consultant, I have successfully done a couple of important programme evaluations, capacity assessments and strategy Zoomshops with minimum or no physical contact of the client, courtesy of the Covid-19 normal.

Artificial Intelligence and the aggressive advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution have become our instant reality in a world that is changing faster than you blink. Implications on our entire lives are more farreaching than any change the human race ever experienced.

Yet I could never quite wrap my head around the idea or possibility of virtual lobola proceedings...conducting a significantly tradition-facing ceremony using decidedly modern tools and channels. Least of all, that of my own daughter!

I am myself a traditionalist, who subscribes to a reasoned conviction that the primary failure of today's microwave courtships, cellphone relationships and quicksand marriages has to be found in our increasingly disengaged human relations, in the harsh demands of the impersonal rat-race of our lifestyles, these Westernised and highly urbanised cash economies, fuelled, among other things, by this ‘twisted convenience' of the super-modern highway of info technologies.

Thina, the block off the Ol-time-religion, we tended to be invested in patient, enduring courtships whose primary basis was physical human contact, solid inter-family intelligence and the primacy of person-to-person family sociology. We wrote hundreds of love letters and sent missions of aunties and friends to do our bidding just to outsmart rival suitors and earn the heart of a girl. We endured several background checks of self, deep scrutinies of family and often harsh judgements of one's grooming and cultural rooting. We walked long nights to remote cattle sales to secure just a portion of lobola. As abakwenyana, we sat shoe-less, cowered on a reed mat (ecansini), in a corner, behind some creeky door only as you would find timid criminals and accused suspects as you walk into any of our wantonly abusive ZRP charge offices. Indeed, we walked through several walls of rejection, outright prejudice, undue hate and sincere due diligence appraisal before the gift of a wife was ours.

So often, I find my love for Thenji and the value my heart assigns to our union is inspired as much by the painstaking rigour, the rejection, the tormenting drag and niggling pains it took me to secure her hand in marriage as it is by her charming beauty and warm heart. Yes, the brilliant glow that we see in our union, is only evidence of the ashes and the pain upon which God built our marriage. We celebrate every scar. Then, that cumulative value could never have been secured in a two-hour Zoom meeting!
Even before I wiped off the tears, celebrating her graduation early last year, my beautiful daughter announced to me she had met someone she intended to be with for the rest of her life. I just continued crying...only a different stream of tears!

Her first two attempts at commencing talks were rained off by successive Covid-19 lockdowns. A third by a loss in the family. And the last date proposed around Christmas found her, her mother and myself all gasping for dear life, Covid-stricken and quarantined. So finally, this is a beautiful, socking wet Valentine's Day. Zinanzile is here with us in our renewed lockdown. Her fiancé Wilbert locked down somewhere in Magaliesburg, SA. My only sister, her auntie, who must run the lobola show, is locked down somewhere in Leeds, UK. Her prospective in-laws are similarly scattered in rural Mhondoro and strewn around this masked-up world. Her key emissaries, the Ncanes, that
have the intimate knowledge of this young romance, are similarly locked down somewhere in Witbank, Mpumalanga. ED just announced... except for purposes of burying, my own people may not gather... We are here, there and everywhere. Yet these young lovers have observed the rules and fulfilled any reasonable parent's dream...They only seek to fulfil their marital dream without compromising the requirements of culture.

Many keep asking how social media platform Zoom could be used for lobola wihout crippling the ritual's fundamental cultural essence.

Here's how...

Zoom lobola programme

Sunday February 14 2021 0900hrs: Arrival of pre-arranged

Zoom participants. Setting up convenient Wi-Fi-supported Zoom sites. Identify an effective Zoom host to manage connections and co-ordinate the seamless flow of speakers. It is useful for your small specialised team to rehearse the process ahead of receiving the guests. Amongst the family and friends, I was lucky to have the services an IT expert, an accomplished priest, a human resources specialist, a gender expert and a great lawyer combining their skills to guide the process. It is important to assign technical support to gogos and aunties who are critical to the process, but may be unfamiliar with social media tech.

0930hrs: Setting-up of Zoom connection and settling-in of participants. Ensure data-supported backup phones should Wi-Fi network drop. Ensure to record all proceedings as minutes of the deliberations. Agreeing procedure and finalising roles among the Hosting Team. (You will need a small, smart negotiating team in a separate WhatsApp group to do the in-box bargaining )
0950hrs: Prayer
1000hrs: Chairman's welcome and opening remarks. Chair outlines the purpose, meeting agenda/objectives and key roles;
1010hrs: Request by Visiting Team to Enter. and proceed . . . .

Zii Masiye (ziimasiye@gmail. com) writes elsewhere on social media as Balancing Rocks. Find him on 263772969301

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