“Damages” In The African Culture

Let’s talk paying damages!

“Damages” is a price that is paid when a girl is impregnated by a man who has not married her. It differs in many cultures of in terms of the process and how it’s followed. It was kind of tricky on my end because my partner (baby daddy) is Zulu and me being Xhosa made things a bit complicated and so today I thought I’d share with you the differences.

In the Zulu culture a girl child or young maiden makes her mother aware of her pregnancy, it is then the mother’s duty to let the whole family know. I’m sure it’s the same thing with the Xhosa culture because I also told my mother (via whatsapp) because it’s really not an easy thing to do. Once the Zulu family is aware, the maidens mother accompanied by other female members of the family and young girls around the females age wake up in the early hours of the morning to go and report the “crime” done by the young man to his family. This is usually done before the girl’s pregnancy is visible, how the boys family recognizes the pregnancy is when the girls pull up or take of their tops to show their breasts. In the Xhosa culture however, you have to wait at least up until the 6month to go and have the negotiations with the guys family because it is believed that the pregnancy should be hidden to prevent any evil spirits coming near the child while still weak. (Now, this was quite different for us because my partners family was expecting us before 6months) If you go later then it means you were unsure of the pregnancy and have been going to different families and they make you pay a specific price as the maidens family, luckily for me my partners family is not strict and they stated that because they had seen me around their home, know all is well and they accepted the pregnancy.

Once the damages have been paid, usually through a cow/sheep (depending on the family of the maiden). In the Xhosa culture the maidens homestead must be cleansed, whereas in the Zulu culture some families expect the boy child to pay Lobola (bride price) for the child as a way of them acknowledging and accepting the child. However the child keeps mother’s surname because they are raised by the mother’s family.

Here’s my thing though, I don’t feel it’s necessary for damages to be paid because some families now use this as a way of making money for free. Some charge a price so high that they make the young man run away from maintaining the child.

In my opinion, as long as a man accepts his child, takes care of the child and has a relationship with their child then nothing else really matters.

Did you have to go through the damages process? How was it?

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