I had an interesting conversation with a friend who wants to get married but her parents don’t want her to do it just yet. Our white friend then adds that she finds it so strange that not many black people marry as young as most white people do.
I thought about it for a while and here’s my analogy.
With us black people many times we have to take care of our families once we start working while this is very seldom the case with whites. Our families educate us with the expectation that we will be able to create a better life for the entire family once we are in the position to do so. White people educate their children in order for them to take care of themselves. Only now are black people starting to create the kind of wealth that’ll enable them to be independent from their children when they retire.
I think what my friend’s parents think is: getting married young means that her own household will be a priority over taking care of them. It is not to say that it will be the case but it makes perfect sense. I think this is one of the reasons for lobola. The parents get cows for investing in their daughter since she will belong to another family.
Parents invest in their kids because they expect to be taken care of by them once they can no longer take care of themselves. That’s why when a Xhosa man returns from initiation, you hear elders say “Wagwetywa ndlala!” which means, hunger/poverty has been punished. They invested in him becoming a man and they now expect him to provide for his family.