The Juristic Nature of iLobolo Agreements in Modern South Africa


  • Siyabonga Sibisi



ilobolo, bridal-price, bridewealth, marriage goods, dowry, customary marriages, ilobolo agreement


The practice of ilobolo has been referred to by many names, including bridal-price, bridewealth, marriage goods or dowry. These concepts are misleading as they suggest that a woman is being bought. There are sections of society who argue that the practice is unconstitutional as it discriminates against women and must be abolished. There are also sections who argue that the practice of ilobolo is firmly rooted in customary marriages and cannot be dispensed with. They add that the practice is not discriminatory against women as it is men who are required to pay ilobolo and not women. Often the agreement that underlies ilobolo is referred to as the ilobolo contract. This brings into purview the question of the juristic nature of the ilobolo agreement; whether it is a contract or a merely an agreement. A conclusion in this regard is important because it sheds some light on the enforceability of an agreement to pay ilobolo. This article sets out to analyse the juristic nature of the ilobolo agreement and concludes that the ilobolo agreement is a sui generis agreement with legal consequences and should be enforceable in a court of law.


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How to Cite

Siyabonga Sibisi. (2021). The Juristic Nature of iLobolo Agreements in Modern South Africa. Obiter, 42(1), 57–69.