Roora Squad (or Lobola Squad in Isindebele) is a relatively new term referring to the team of bride and bridesmaids at a traditional African wedding ceremony, Roora (Lobola). Sometimes the term also refers to the man and his team of supporting friends.
The term gradually gained popularity from around 2018. In 2021, the term trended on Zimbabwe social media following incidents of Roora Squad drama posted on the platforms. There are pictures on social media suggesting the culture had already started in 2017.
Roora Squads usually dress for the roora occasion just as deliberately as people have traditionally done for "White" weddings. However, the choice of dress is almost always traditional African prints.
Purpose and role of a Roora Squad
The bridesmaids in the squad serve are usually a group of friends supporting the bride in the roora process as she celebrates and enters a new phase of life - that of a married person.
While the bride's best friend (and maybe sometimes a few) has always played an unofficial supportive role in Zimbabwean traditional marriages, roora squads are a new phenomenon. The number of friends is larger, averaging 5 and sometimes more. The deliberate dressing, posting for photos, and sharing them on social media under the hashtag #RooraSquad is also new.
Prominent Roora Incidents
In April 2021, the roora of one Hastings (bridegroom) and Plaxedes (bride) was reported to have been eventful after one of the female friends had revealed that the groom's child had not been fathered by him. Reports suggested that a DNA test had been conducted and confirmed the information. The news spread rapidly on social media with their pictures circulating widely.
Several days later however, reports suggested the incident had been a lie.
The wide circulation of the Plaxedes and Hatings news resulted in even more awareness of the growing culture.
Pictures of Roora Squads
Opinions on the trend
Following the reported Roora Squad drama in April 2021, renowned talk-show host and marriage counsellor Mai Chisamba commented:
“I have heard about the story which was trending on social media. I think some Zimbabweans have a problem of just jumping on board on some of the trends which do not speak of our culture. There is nothing in our culture called roora squad. It is a private family function, because in some instances the families will have a disagreement on certain matters and it remains private on that day. Why would you need 10 friends to witness that?
This is when the groom or bride is asked if they are sure of the decision they are about to make, and it is not for the public and friends. I think those who are doing the roora squad are about showing off their fashion statements and moreover they are celebrating it the wrong way.
Gone are the days when only family representatives would attend the ceremony. I call them the dot.com generation. They are the ones who are bringing more harm to our culture trying to imitate what they see on television.
The son-in-law, when he goes to pay the lobola, he goes with a limited budget of food for the small number of people attending the event, but now imagine having 20 friends from both sides attending. Is it still the same system or we are talking about something else. What if the family you are going to has one room, how many chairs do they have? Never take things for granted."
Relationship counsellor and United Methodist Church evangelist Bernard Banda:
"I do not have a problem with what is going on nowadays during the lobola ceremony because culture is dynamic and things are changing. We should appreciate and accept the new norm. Having that squad is no big deal, even when I got married, I went with my friends. Now it is like a wedding, a big day, there is a camera crew, catering and decoration. It is actually expensive though because we now have a theme to suit the day, including dressing."
- Congratulations my darling friend!!! Only GOD! It was a beautiful evening!!! ROORA squad all day every day., Instagram, Published: 25 Sept 2017, Retrieved: 3 May 2021
- Roora/Lobola Squad Drama: Bride’s Sister Sets The Record Straight , iHarare, published: 30 April 2021, Retrieved: 3 May 2021
- Tafadzwa Zimoyo, Roora squads, changing the culture, The Herald, Published: 1 May 2021, Retrieved: 3 May 2021