groom’s family will begin negotiating the marriage and lobola with the bride’s family. is not a ‘ Xhosa but a means of establishing a link between the two families. The size of lobola varies considerably depending on the relative wealth and status of the families, the advantage to gain from the marriage link, and the desirability of the bride.
Traditionally Xhosa usually amounted to eight heads of cattle, and today the value of each head of cattle forms part of the overall negotiation. However there is a Xhosa saying, ‘one never stops paying Xhosa ’, which means the family link is the important part of lobola, a union that must be constantly renewed by visiting one’s in-laws, inviting them round, and in general maintaining very good familial relationships.