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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Opinion: Blacks, poverty and wealth transfer

I thought about putting pen to paper on this sensitive subject for quite a while, the urge to do so has been tainted with sentiments and facts rubbed together in a Yin and Yan. There is this saying that "Everybody plays the fool, and there is no exception to the rule". 

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we play the fool to some things we do not fully understand, not because we do not want to understand those things, but because we have chosen to psychologically detach ourselves from such thinking or we are just being unrealistically sentimental about it; either way to our own peril.

A bulk of this writing is directed to Africans, Caribbeans, Asians, South Americans and African -Americans. I am more particular about black Africans on this subject, we are at the bottom of the economic ladder when it comes to standard of living, per capita income, life expectancy, food security, primary health care etc. Our position is not accidental, things do not just happen, they happen for a reason.

Inter-generational wealth can be transferred in three ways: (1) Saving Money (2) Insurance Policies (3) Dependable Investments. How many of us have one of these three functionally in place, not to talk of having all? What most Africans have succeeded in having as their inheritance is poverty! And what most Africans alive today will leave for their children as inheritance is poverty! Same applies to other races mentioned above. It all begins with expensive burial rites and ceremonies in the name of culture and tradition. A situation where the living is compelled to bury the dead with monies they don't have to please people they don't like!

Saving money, having insurance policies in place and venturing into dependable investments as means of wealth transfer from one generation to another is something that has been mastered by Europeans and whites all over the world well over 200 years ago. A major reason why they are on top of the economic ladder. An average white kid or teenager at the untimely death of one or both parents starts out with an average of $100,000 while an average black kid with same circumstances as the white kid starts out with $0 because his parents are either ignorant, selfish, insensitive or do not simply believe wealth transfer is a priority.

You hear my people say: "It is not in our culture to do insurance", but our culture supports going to borrow money to bury the dead when you don't have it. You hear some say: "My religion forbids having insurance policies". But your religion does not forbid begging and asking people for financial support for your young family when you untimely pass on, your religion does not forbid living on benefits accrued from the sweat of other people to support your family. Indeed, your religion forbids you protect yourself and your family against uncertainties for the price of a visit to KFC or Burger King? Think about this....

And others say: "My wife may kill me if she knows I have a life insurance". What did you do to her that will make her consider killing you? "My husband will strangle me if he knows I have a life policy". These are things I have heard from friends, families and clients during briefing. If there is one thing such people should know, in countries like UK, USA and other developed nations, your partner will be the first suspect should you die mysteriously with a life policy in place. Murder is not that easy to get away with in such climes. The positives of having policies in place and not needing it far outweighs the negatives of not having it and then needing it.

The most common response is: "God is my insurance". Of course, He is the Alpha and Omega, the arbiter of all things. But we have seen men and women of God die untimely by human standards. Accidents, sickness, fatal injuries, depression, murder etc. Are you saying they died because they sinned or because you are better or of more faith than they were? Why don't you let earthly things remain earthly and heavenly things remain heavenly. 

Several people of faith have died because of ignorance and negligence, uncountable have died in Nigeria due to inhalation of generator fumes because they refused to buy smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on the premise that Jesus is their protector and Mohammed (SAW) their saviour. Imagine the height of ignorance! Believing to know when you do not know is folly...

Numerous number of people have lost their mortgages and have their homes reposed due to serious injuries or life threatening illnesses, they could not work and they have no life policies (mortgage or non-mortgage in place). These are mortgages of over a £1,000/month but not having a £20/month policy as cover in the face of uncertainties, they lost their homes and lost the equities. Those without mortgages in same situation  could no longer function as a family due to lack of funds. They became a burden to friends and families. Now, who is wiser, the lender or the borrower?

Having insurance policies is important the moment you have dependants to cater for. God forbid untimely death, accident or critical illness any of us but whether dead or alive, none of us would want to see our loved ones going abegging, aborrowing and asorrowing. Let us contribute to inter-generational wealth transfer and by so doing, elevate the black race from the scourge of poverty at the bottom of the ladder to a more appropriate position on the ladder.

*Anthony Ihidero is a certified Insurance Consultant based in United Kingdom and contributed this at The Rat Race (only headline changed)

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