24 November 2012

Rwanda: Our Life After University


A typical Rwandan male youth who has not staggered on his academic pathway gets awarded with a first degree aged between 24 and 25. I am excluding females on this one, and you will understand me when you are through with reading.

His family jumps into a good mood. As a result of getting carried away by secular amount of excitement, the family decides to throw a lavish graduation party - sometimes not within their means. Without a sense of shame or something, some parents rush to the bank and secure a loan that will foot the graduation party bill.

I understand the joy of having your offspring advancing and getting ready to trade his skills and pursue a career. But I don't fathom why you have to secure a bank loan for a graduation party for your child.

Remember that children view parents as their role models, and mostly want to replicate the actions displayed by their parents as they grow. Just like many other issues that we collide with in life, you have to be very candid on financial matters with your child to prepare them for this world that does not guarantee a bed of showy and bell-shaped lilies.

Let me swing back to a lifestyle of a typical Rwandan male youth, fresh from donning a gown that's customarily unisex in a fashion cut.

Like many of us, he would hardly contemplate becoming an entrepreneur. He would nauseatingly look at the entrepreneurial talk as indigestible pills. He thus embarks on throwing around his application, and of course a CV that still holds little substance. Sometimes, effortlessly, he lands a job! Bingo!

To his delight, the contract reads a remuneration of about 300,000 Rwanda francs - take home. He feels he has arrived! Because the parents never acted financially responsible or even talked to him about financial matters, this lad does not locate the words 'saving and investments' in his vocabularies.

And this is clearly evident when he receives his salary and spends it all on his girlfriend and friends in the name of celebrating his first formal earning. He does not save a single penny because his parents - like I said - never talked to him about the principle of "count the pennies and dollars will count themselves".

With excitement and the sudden feeling of having freedom to buy candy wherever and whenever, he suggests that he wants to move out of his parents' home. He at that juncture gets a friend and jointly rent a house that goes for about 300,000 Rwandan francs. That means he will now pocket only 150,000 francs, which will not sufficiently cover basic household expenses.

He is making such an incorrigible financial decision to stay in such a mansion because he wants to keep living in a similar setup like his parents. How will this lad be able to save and enhance his personal growth?

As if that's not disconcerting enough, he eats up his tomorrow today. How does he do it? Off, he walks to a bank and secures a car loan. He is clearly attempting to live comfortably, yet unknowingly stifling his personal growth. He does not think about purchasing land or shares on capital markets to ensure a sustainable growth. He forgets that the goddamn loaned car is just a liability, not an asset.

Here is a very serious problem undetected. Many of us - the youth - are practically living in other people's world. We buy expensive cars on loan or multiple loans or do things because our colleagues are doing them. Phew! This is a dyed-in-the-wool kind of thing!

Look elsewhere. Young people in Uganda and Kenya believe so much in entrepreneurship and assets accumulation. A Ugandan young man won't buy a car on loan before he buys pieces of land. He won't rent a four-bedroomed house when there is a two or one bedroomed option. He will drink a low-end beer (Senator) while a young Rwandan man will take down a bottle of Hennessey. They call it a swagger! \

For our sisters? I rest my case.

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