A Guide to How Much You Should be Paying for Lobola


According to Stats SA, the number of weddings taking place each year has been in steady decline. In addition to economic woes, young people are finding it harder to afford the costs that come with a wedding.

While couples generally have to save for the venue, the wedding dress and other expenses, there may be other costs to be considered, such as lobola.

Lobola is a price whereby a man and his family pay a certain amount to the bride’s family as a way of thanking them for raising her well. The lobola process initiates the marriage process according to African culture. Lobola is essentially about honouring the bride-to-be’s family.

Traditionally, lobola was paid in livestock, but in modern times this has changed to a more convenient currency, in the form of cash.

Financial journalist Maya Fisher-French says that on average, couples plan to spend R27000 on a honeymoon and R20000 on an engagement ring. For traditional weddings, lobola comes to about R40 000.
Couples who wish to marry have to prepare for the high costs of a wedding.

For many men, this leaves them wondering how much they should expect to pay for lobola.

Here’s a guide to how much you should be paying for lobola:

  • The people negotiating lobola on your behalf as a groom-to-be should not negotiate in order to gain something for themselves.
  • The best way to negotiate is to listen. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of lobola is to build relations between teh respective families.
    “It is a token of thanks and appreciation on teh groom’s part to teh family of teh bride for their care over her and for allowing her to become his wife,” says Methodist church leader Bishop Musa Losaba.
  • Most families nowadays choose cash instead of cows because of the convenience. The average payment is 12 cows. This amount is depenedent on the bride’s culture.
  • A range of factors are used to calculate the lobola amount. The price is lowered by one cow per child the bride has given birth to before marriage.

A further guide to how much you should be paying for lobola:

Average lobola paid per province in South Africa:

  • Western Cape: R35 000 or 5 cows
  • Eastern Cape: R85 000 or 15 cows
  • KwaZulu-Natal: R78 000 or 10 cows
  • North West: R65 000 or 8 cows
  • Mpumalanga: R35 000 or 5 cows
  • Limpopo: R85 000 or 11 cows
  • Gauteng: R82 500 or 12 cows


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