Some call it damages, especially in the Townships. I want to take this opportunity to write about this topic as it has been greatly abused because of ignorance. I am not writing to please people but to document knowledge for the next generation. I have spent time with the elders, receiving knowledge, and most of them were very happy to see someone interested in the knowledge from our forefathers. Inhlawulo is paid by a family of a male who is accused of breaking into a Kraal of a Man (esibayeni semnumzane) by sleeping with a daughter of Umnumzane. Before the payment, the family of the maiden (Intfombi) will have to go and report the incident to the other family and inform them that their son has caused some damages (bamonile umtfwana wabo) to their Daughter (Indvodzana yabo seyibashayele tinyoni) and they were supposed to have a proof that there was damage, which was the pregnancy. These processes normally happen when the daughter is already pregnant (babika Sisu). Nowadays inhlawulo is paid if it is the first child of the maiden. Even though I have heard of several ignorant people who were demanded inhlawulo for every child; which is not cultural. Inhlawulo was paid in a form of cows, but nations differ on the number of cows that are supposed to be paid. Inhlawulo was not only paid to the family of the maiden but was also paid to the virgins of that area and also to the king of that area. So these days once you have made a lady pregnant and it is her firstborn the family of the lady will demand inhlawulo.
Most of the time people will say uhlawula umtfwana you are paying the fine for making her pregnant. The truth about Inhlawulo is that you don’t pay inhlawulo because you have made her pregnant but you pay it for breaking into a Kraal of Umnumzane (kwephula sibaya semnumzane). The question is does impregnating a lady mean you have broken into the Kraal of Umnumzane especially if it is her first child? What if the lady has had an abortion or miscarriages before from another man? Does it mean if she doesn’t abort your child or have a miscarriage then you are the one who is supposed to pay damages (inhlawulo)? How about all the men who previously made her pregnant, but ended up being an abortion or miscarriage? Are they also not liable to pay a fine(inhlawulo)? What about those who have been having sex with that lady but didn’t make her pregnant and there are even the ones who broke her virginity, are they also not liable? What does it really means to break into a Kraal of Umnumzane whereby you are supposed to pay a fine(Inhlawulo)? The idea that when it is the first child you have to pay inhlawulo is not based in culture, it is just a bad habit, because Inhlawulo is for the one who has broken into a Kraal of Umnumzane not because you are the first one to make the lady pregnant. Breaking Sibaya semnumzane means breaking her virginity (kutsatsa buntfombi umkhiphe ebuntfombini ngobe ungaze ulale nendvodza buntfombi buyaphela ungene kulesinye sigaba semphilo lona lotsetse lobo buntfombi nguye lophule sibaya semnumzane ). The person who has broken the virginity of the lady is the one who is supposed to pay inhlawulo for breaking Isibaya semnumzane. According to our culture we only give Inhlawulo if one has broken the virginity of a lady. This thing of saying you pay inhlawulo because it was her first child where else she had been sleeping around is not cultural. Inhlawulo yekuhlawula kulala nentfombi(Virgin). Why do they say sleeping with a virgin is equal to breaking the kraal of a man (kuphula sibaya semnumzane)? When someone breaks into a kraal some cows will run away and get lost (letinye tinkhomo tiyabaleka tilahleke ). Once a lady has lost her virginity the father won’t be able to demand full lobola for her child which will mean a kraal was broken and some cows ran away. When a lady kept her virginity it was like keeping the kraal intact and all cows would be remain in the kraal. When someone breaks the virginity of your child as Umnumzane you will know that you have already lost a certain number of cows because even if someone comes and marries your child, that person won’t be liable to pay the full bride price because your child is no longer a virgin thus losing some cows because someone broke your kraal. Inhlawulo was also for compensating umnumzane for the cows he will lose during lobola because of the one who broke Isibaya sakhe. When we were growing up some ladies would always say don’t touch the kraal of my father they will even say these are the cows of my father don’t temper with them (Ungadlaleli esibayeni sababe phela leti tinkhomo tababe akufanele tilahleke). They knew that they are carrying Isibaya semnumzane and they must not allow us to break those kraals.
Once a lady has had sex she is no longer a virgin intfombi she then falls to the womanhood side. Intfombi is someone who has not slept with a man. Some ladies will even say this guy nguye lowangitsatsela buntfombi bami. This thing of saying Intfombi Ntfo does not exist in our culture once a girl sleep with a man she is no longer a virgin or Intfombi. Inhlawulo is supposed to be payed by a Man for sleeping with a virgin(breaking the kraal of a man) it used to be paid whether the virgin was pregnant or not. Ladies used to be tested for virginity, when a lady was found not to be a virgin anymore she was supposed to say who broke her virginity (Ngubani lophule sibaya semnumzane). That man was then summoned by the King of that area, if found guilty he was then fined(Inhlawulo). The king was the one who determined the number of cows and the father of the lady would also receive something. Part of inhlawulo was supposed to be slaughtered to appease the ancestors of the Girl. It is not in our culture that we give Inhlawulo if it was her first child but our culture demands that we give Inhlawulo because the lady was a virgin. If you have a baby with a lady and the child was her first child(Indzabula livadla) but the lady was not a virgin you are not supposed to pay inhlawulo but you can redeem the child if you have not taken the mother. The man who broke the virginity is the one who is supposed to pay inhlawulo whether the lady got pregnant or not. That was also a way of discouraging Men from going around breaking the virginity of girls without having any intention of taking them as their wives. These days some men break girls’ virginity then walk free without any punishment and that has led to some men going around bragging for breaking many virgins. They break the virginity and the one who will impregnate the lady is made to pay also for the sins of those who broke isibaya semnumzane whilest the real culprits are free. Sometimes being pregnant was the proof that the man has real slept with the lady but the man was also supposed to reveal if she was a virgin or not. If she was not a virgin it was also her responsibility to say who broke isibaya semnumzane because that man found it already broken. But the good thing about the ladies from those days was that they were not sleeping around because they knew that they were carrying the Kraal of their fathers and they must keep it away from thieves.
In fact, a man who goes around breaking girls virginity will bring misfortunes to himself and would normally end up without a wife in most cases. Blood must not be spilled for nothing, same with the blood of a virgin hymen. When you spill it for nothing and leave that lady, that blood will report you to your ancestors and the ancestors of the lady in which could lead to misfortunes for that man. To us, blood can speak whether good or bad depending on how it has been spilled. Africans were not just slaughtering for no reason because we used to respect the spilling of blood. Same with the blood of a virgin’s hymen, it is supposed to spilt at the right time after proper arrangements have been carried out, woe to those men who go around breaking the virginity of girls without even facing the music, that blood will normally create bad luck for them especially if they did not Hlawula and appease the ancestors of that lady. That is the reason a man must respect the blood of a virgin broken hymen, it must not be spilled just for joy and proving a point. It is very disrespectful when you go around breaking the virginity of girls without facing the consequences. Again if you have respect you won’t break isibaya semnumzane because you know you will give inhlawulo that’s a sign of not respecting umnumzane. If it happens that one has spilled such blood, it was recommended to pay inhlawulo and appease the ancestors and as well as to take the lady as your wife and pay a full bride price. A man who had broken a girl’s virginity was not only considered to have broken sibaya semnumzane but also to have defiled the community, that is why Inhlawulo was not only limited to the father of the girl but also the King of the area and ladies of that area(Tintfombi tesigodzi). Those who lived Eswatini during early 80s will remember that virgins were supposed to wear umcwasho. If it happens a man breaks the virginity of one of the girls, the maidens of that community would go to that man’s home singing a song called Sadla tekondza mngani wami. When they arrive there they used to throw umcwasho wabo on the fence of that home. And the family of that man will know that their son has caused troubles and for the ladies to remove umcwasho from the fence that man was supposed to pay inhlawulo to the ladies, also to the king of the area as well as the father of the child. Such was supposed to be done quickly because the longer umcwasho stays there meant the fine would increase.
A lady who has been sexually active, even if she does not have any child, Ilobolo must not be paid in full as if paying for a virgin. She is considered not complete (likhalo lakhe alisaphelelanga), during the first intercourse they used to use something very white so that they can easily see the spilled blood in the morning. If the is blood in the cloth or something else the whole family both the lady and the young man will rejoice and take that to keep it safe because it was also the pride of the lady that her blood was spilled after marriage. Such ladies who got married whilst virgins used to be the ones who gave birth to Inkhosana and end up being the Gogo of the Home. A lady who got married not a virgin was not supposed to give birth to Inkhosana or end up being the Gogo of the home(bekangalidli likhaya) because it’s her blood that seal the covenant, and it was broken by someone outside of that home(Uma wendze ungasasiyo intfombi awulidli likhaya ngekwesiko). Those ladies who got married whiles virgins used to brag and be very proud about keeping their virginity and there was a reward for that. These days you meet a lady who has aborted several times and she says i don’t have a child and it happens she does not abort yours and her family will come and report and also demand inhlawulo to you; that is fraud. Robbing anyone will normally not end up well and most men are being robbed when it comes to Inhlawulo finding themselves having to pay for the sins of other men who caused the actual damage and walked free. In such cases, the ancestors of that man would not be happy to be robbed, which can cause bad luck to that lady and her family. Inhlawulo is more for the ancestors more than the living. Siyinduna Silindza Mapopo Rampane . Ndauwe.