It was about two o’clock in the afternoon on a very cold winter’s day.
Mr Sipho Morula was Malesedi’s uncle, representing the Morula family as a leader in the negotiations. Mr Thato Ramafatlha was Khumo’s uncle, representing the Ramafatlha family as the leader. There was also Mr Sipho’s wife Mampho, Malesedi’s father, Modise and his wife Winnie Morula. On the other side were Thato Dikeledi, Khumo’s father Molifi and his wife Naledi. Khumo and Malesedi had spent more than two years dating and so they had now decided to take the big step and get married.
When the negotiations started, Mr Thato Ramafatlha put a bottle of brandy on the table without saying anything, but then again nobody was saying anything. Khumo’s father decided to put another bottle of brandy on the table with a coat, hat and walking stick, without saying anything. Still nobody said anything. So Thato put R 2000 cash on the table without saying anything.
It was only now that Mr Sipho Morula started to smile. “Now we can talk business, yes sir please,” Mr Thato Ramafatlha said.
“As you know, now everything is very expensive and even cows are very expensive. Our daughter is very smart, beautiful, she can clean, fetch wood in the forest and water by the river without fear. Cooking and washing clothes is her game and she’s going to make your son happy and give birth to his children. So how many cows do you have for our daughter? And you must bear in mind, we want fat and big cows – with their tails,” said Mr Sipho Morula.
Mr Thato Ramafatlha replied.
“Yes sir, we agree with you but I think one cow costs R1500 with its tail and R1000 without a tail. Our son is the one who’s going to put bread on the table each and every day, and each and every month. Even the lights in the house will be on him, each and every day. He will have to protect and keep the family alive. So, we will give you seven cows with tails because our son is going to do everything for your daughter.”
“Over my dead body!” said Mr Sipho Morula. “It’s better for you to think twice because I think one cow costs R5 500 without tail and R6000 or R7000 with a tail. And please show some respect to our family; we want more than ten cows with tails because our daughter doesn’t even have one child. And all of you know how we do things according to our culture because we’re all married here.” By the time he stopped speaking he was very angry.
“OK, we will give you more than ten cows with tails because we want to put these lobola negotiations to an end, peacefully. We are not here to fight and we agreed as the Ramafatlha family to give you twelve cows. I think this will be the end of the lobola negotiations.”
Mr Sipho Morula replied with a smile and he was happy this time.
“Thank you, Sir, now we’re on the same page. Ladies, please bring the girls out before the sun catch us.”
Two ladies rushed to the bedroom to fetch the girls and one of them was Malesedi.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please choose your daughter-in-law,”
Ramafatlha made the choice by chosing Malesedi.
And everybody was happy and they started singing as they made their way outside where everybody was waiting for them. There was a big fire outside with big, black pots cooking meat, samp, pap and other traditional foods. Most of the men were sitting around the fire having conversations, laughing, singing, dancing and enjoying themselves with brandy and African beer. Khumo and Malesedi were now husband and wife.
Everything was fine between Khumo and Malesedi and two years later they had a son called Mojalefa. Four years later Malesedi was pregnant again. Khumo was more in love with his wife and became more romantic towards her. What he didn’t know was that Malesedi did not quite feel the same.
She had always loved the attention other men gave her and now that she was married it seemed they wanted her more. Malesedi couldn’t fight the advances they made on her and ended up giving in. Now she had become an unfaithful wife to Khumo, but Khumo was none the wiser.
One day Khumo knocked off early from work and it was the end of the month. Before he went home he rushed to the market and bought dress, shoes, and a hat for his wife and clothes for his son and unborn child.
On his way home, as he was walking down the street, he saw more than six men fighting in front of his house. Four of them were already dead. When Khumo came closer Malesedi was standing there starring at them, and she didn’t know what to do. When she saw Khumo she was shaking, shivering and she was so cold as if it was winter but everybody was sweating because it was summer and the sun was very hot.
She ran straight to Khumo and told him everything. He learned that the men were fighting for Malesedi and she didn’t know who the father of her unborn baby was. She told him she was changing men like pairs of socks when Khumo was at work during the day. Khumo didn’t know that because he thought he was the one who had made his lovely wife pregnant. Malesedi was always innocent and acted as if nothing was happening when she was with Khumo and she didn’t want Khumo know what she was doing. She knew very well that Khumo trusted her and loved her deeply but she was busy cheating on him.
At that moment tears filled Khumo’s eyes and he didn’t know what to do or to say. Khumo seemed strangely angry and irritable, his anger was directed at his wife and people were afraid he might wrestle her to the ground and beat her to death.
She tried to apologise to Khumo but it was too late for that. Khumo ignored her and he was feeling like bursting into tears.
“Malesedi my lovely wife, I gave you my heart and everything you wanted and needed from me to make you happy. But you broke my heart into pieces and I have nothing to say to you. I’m in pain and you caused it and the only thing that I can say is please take care of my son.”
After that Khumo went straight to the river and climb the big and tall tree. He jumped into the river and his head hit one of the big rocks inside the river and he died.
One of the men had managed to kill the others with a knife and was the only remaining one. He went to Malesedi. “My dearest love, know that I’m H.I.V positive and I can’t be with you,” he paused as he was in pain. He was bleeding all over his body and he was weak. “I must kill myself too and you must take care of my unborn child,” he took the knife and killed himself in front of Malesedi.
Malesedi was crying and she didn’t know what to do.
The following day she took Khumo’s son to his parents without saying anything. When she got back home she burned down the house and went to another village before even Khumo was buried.
A month later she was suffering because of stress and she was not taking treatment. She lost her unborn child. She kept moving from village to village, sleeping anywhere and she was known as crazy as she was dirty and smelling and eating with pigs and dogs. She spent the rest of her days like this and nobody knew when she did or where she was when she did.
Tell us: Would you have killed yourself if you were Khumo? Why? Why not?