By NBF News

SA virgins
For some South African girls, the 2010 World Cup was not a time to catch fun and lose their virginity. In a country where it is no big deal for a girl of 16 to have a baby without being married, one would have thought meeting a virgin would be a mission impossible.

But investigation during the tournament revealed that despite the loose nature of the average South African babe, some of the girls have not bowed to the god of immorality. Not even the World Cup could change the few who have yet to taste the forbidden fruit.

A South African couple this reporter met at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Richards Bay disclosed that their daughter, Belinda, who is 18, was still a virgin and that their dream was to see her remain one until her day of marriage. Belinda, who was in church on that fateful day with dad and mum, obliged this reporter what could pass for a quick interview.

Though the very shy lady, who works in one of the eateries in town, refused to disclose her full name after getting to know that I was a Nigerian journalist covering the World Cup, she still bared her mind. Belinda said her goal was to remain a virgin until she got married, since that would guarantee her parents 11 cows, which is not negotiable. She pointed out that in the Zulu culture, a man who wants to marry a virgin must, among other things, present his would-be in laws 11 cows.

'If I am getting married tomorrow, my parents will get 11 cows since I am a virgin and I don't think there is anything a tourist will offer me during the World Cup that will make me want to lose my virginity. In our culture, one who is getting married as a virgin is highly celebrated. This informs why the man must compulsorily be ready to make a presentation of 11 cows, as part of the bride price during the traditional marriage rites called 'Lobola.' My goal is to see my parents smile home with those cows during my marriage,' Belinda said.

The lobola (traditional marriage) of a virgin in Zululand is nothing but a carnival of some sort.

'These days when it is not easy to find virgins, the lobola of a virgin is nothing but a carnival,' Belinda's parents confirmed, even as they said it was their prayer that their daughter would not lose her virginity before marriage.

Further investigation confirmed that marrying virgins in South Africa was not for the poor, going by the 11 cows' law. A young South African teacher, who gave his name as Promise, said he missed getting married to a virgin because he could not afford the 11 cows that must go with the lobola.

'Anybody who wants to marry a virgin in our society must be buoyant. Virgins are not for the poor. It is only the rich men that can afford to pay the bride price of virgins, because you must be ready to present 11 cows to the in laws before any other thing is done,' he said.

Promise, who teaches Technology in one of the high schools, however added that only a few South African girls go into marriage as virgins.

'Here in South Africa, it is difficult to see a girl who is a virgin. Most of our girls give birth at 18 and they are encouraged to do so because the government picks up virtually every bill of the mother and child,' he said.

Generally, marriage in Zululand is expensive, whether it involves a virgin or not. A Zulu suitor, who does not have anything of worth to give to the parents of a woman he wishes to marry, should not consider asking them for permission to marry their daughter. This often limits the amount of wives a Zulu man can have.

During the wedding ceremony, the bride will wear different outfits while the bridesmaids and flower girls will appear in the usual colourful traditional Zulu attires.

First, there is the church part of the wedding, for which the bride will put on white apparel. After that, there is another part of the wedding ceremony, which takes place in the home of the groom. For this, the bride will change from her white outfit into a more colourful traditional Zulu wedding costume. Here, a cow is slaughtered by the groom as a symbol of accepting the bride into his home.

Meanwhile, as a symbol of becoming part of the groom's family, the bride places money inside the stomach of a cow in the presence of witnesses. She, thereafter, presents gifts to the groom's family as a further proof that she is now part of the entire family, and not just there for her husband alone. While the ceremony is on, the bride would change clothes as occasion demands. In fact, the party following a Zulu wedding is usually elaborate and boisterous. It includes competitions between the bride and groom's families. These competitions are centred on singing and dancing, and are usually done in a friendly atmosphere.

Enough cows and sheep are slaughtered and cooked for the wedding feast to accommodate a large number of people, since anyone from the community can attend. Home-made beer (nkwoboti) is prepared for guests and plenty of it flows during the celebration.

Zulu weddings are happy, festive occasions for the entire community and the celebration could go on for days. In any case, different families apply different customary laws, so the lobola ceremonies tend to differ a bit depending on the family involved and how buoyant the bridegroom is.

Before the just concluded FIFA 2010 World Cup, religious organisations in South Africa made efforts to ensure that the soccer fiesta would not end up being a 'Whore Cup.' Churches sent out evangelists to preach the Good News to the ladies. The Catholic Church, on its part, organised a special prayer session for the event, with women and children as prayer points.

Little wonder, South Africa 2010 turned out to be one prostitutes didn't quite enjoy. Post-World Cup reports disclosed that the over 40,000 prostitutes that invaded South Africa during the championship left the Land of Madiba Magic disappointed. From all indications, not all South African teenagers have lost their virginity. Some Zulu parents, even after the Mundial, would still smile home with 11 cows during the lobola of their daughters.