The Difference Between Umembeso and Lobola Ceremony.

A lot of people hardly know the difference between lobola and umembeso ceremonies. Though they are performed on the same day, they comprise of different activities and serve different purposes.

Umembeso is a Zulu traditional ceremony that is part of the lobola negotiations where the groom presents gifts to the bride’s parents and family before the wedding.

While Lobola can most easily be described as a ‘bride price’, something with a specific monetary value attached to it, umembeso or izbizo is a ceremony where the grooms family appreciates the bride’s family, particularly the bride’s mother.

They present gifts to the bride’s mother, thanking her for raising the groom’s soon-to-be wife.

A list of the gifts and their recipients would have already been given  to the groom’s family ahead of time. Gifts on the list usually include blankets, pinafores, head scarves, clothes, food, straw mats, and a live goat, sheep or both.

The groom’s family will then write to the bride’s family to inform them on the day they would like to come for the umembeso. 

When the groom’s family’s arrive they are greeted with singing and dancing at the entrance to the bride’s family home. 

Both families compete with different songs, while the groom’s family requests permission to enter the compound by announcing that they have come with gifts. 

The Umembeso ceremony not only involves singing but also involves dancing and the slaughtering of animals.

So a goat is prepared by the bride’s family as a way of welcoming the groom’s family to their home. Sometimes gifts are also given to the groom’s family.