Marriage in the time of recession

The decline of Zimbabwe’s economy has affected most aspects of life – not least marriage. Pretty Chavango’s story examines the impact of the economic meltdown on relationships.

How has the economy affected marriage? Photo by Maumbile Moments

How has the economy affected marriage? Photo by Maumbile Moments

Finally we managed to all turn up for the get-together we had been planning for ages. It had been a while since I met my high-school friends, our bond having been loosely tied by WhatsApp groups and Facebook pictures for nearly fours years. The prospect of rekindling old ‘flames’ was exciting. At the back of my mind I kept wondering if everyone had remained the same.

Meeting my old friends was something that had been for the longest time been put on hold, mainly because we could not come up with a date and time where everyone would be free. Naturally I assumed this meant each one of my girlfriends had things going on and the thought of sparing hours to reminisce on crushes gone by, sharing group hugs was an unaffordable luxury.

The reunion

It was a mix of intellectuals and fashionistas, through the years we have managed to blend in just fine. We exchanged tales of how we were enjoying adulthood and the freedoms that came with it. Having separated in high school each one had gone their own way some to university and colleges while some had gone straight to work. Having attained just a diploma myself I had already conjured up tales of the busy life I had and that plans to further my education were already in full swing in case anyone cared to ask. Clad in my Sunday best, I had no intentions of revealing the fact that things had not gone exactly the way we had planned, sitting in the then unfinished classroom block in-between free periods where we had planned to conquer the world.

Catching up

Irrespective of our different education levels, some working on their master’s degree, financially we seemed more or less the same. We discussed boys, fashion and future plans until we had exhausted all topics. Realisation dawned on us that we had postponed our reunion, each pretending to be busy simply because we were afraid the other might be having it better and feel outdone. Defences broken down, we delved into real issues starting with the usual culprits who always pretended year in year out that something big was cooking. Now and then someone would say, ‘asikana zvinenge zvaakuita ‘, (girls things are starting to move) we knew it meant she was about to get married.

It’s not a sure thing until the ring

I have had friends who have been introduced to their boyfriend’s family and come the next day on chat group to discuss which colours she prefers for her wedding. I realised depending on the guy you are with, introductions (or even engagements) do not mean much until he puts a ring on it. I have lost count of the number of times I have participated in conversations with friends who believed “this time it’s for real.”

Hand to mouth existence

It would seem as putting a price tag on it but it is what it is, the average family will ask for at least $5,000 for their daughter. On the other hand, most Zimbabweans in their twenties have never held a pay cheque in their lives. We are living in a time where most live from hand to mouth and the prospect of saving for the next month, never mind bride price, is reserved for the highly principled, prayerful, economic and employed with benefits.

Who can afford marriage?

A guy walking in the street right now with a tie that matches his shirt might not have enough money to buy a decent meal. One then pauses to wonder where young men of today’s generation will get money for a decent marriage or have hopes to attain the wedding of their dreams. The struggle is real.

I will pay my own lobola

I have a colleague who says that after waiting for four years for her boyfriend to raise enough money to marry her; she finally decided that to avoid waiting forever it would be better to help him with money to give to her parents. Although this helped fast track the process and they are now proud parents, issues like this always find their way of reaching everyone’s ears, especially during times of misunderstanding where the woman, despite chipping in a quarter of the lobola, will claim that “after all I paid my own lobola!”

After pondering on ways to find a guy not only willing but financially ready to settle down, one friend suggested setting up prayer schedules against anti marriage spirits to which everyone echoed in response, while at that another suggested fasting sessions to which barely audible murmurs were mumbled.

The topic later moved to when we would meet up again, now that everyone had realised they were not lagging behind, we all simultaneously agreed to meet up the following weekend.



Pretty Chavango is a media practitioner who has a passion for gender issues. She loves reading, writing, travelling and good food.She believes in the beauty of dreams and strives to be better than she was the day before. Check out her blog here.