Democratically free, yet financially oppressed

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Conversations about money are frowned upon in most Namibian communities, merely because it is a subject that makes us very uncomfortable. We become particularly uneasy because there are a myriad of emotions around the subject, such as fear, hopelessness, resentment, shame, and anger. These issues are unconsciously passed on to our children.

In the spirit of ending generational poverty, we ought to identify what those emotions are and wrestle them to the ground before they extend to another generation. It amazes me how some parents would rather talk to their children about sex, but not money. They are more comfortable talking about a condom, and not a credit card. If we truly care about the next generation’s financial freedom, we ought to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and have proactive financial dialogues with our children.

As I grapple with the lack of financial literacy within our country, I have come to the following conclusion – since money habits are one of our most learned behaviors, most of us have inherited our parents’ financial habits (good or bad). Our grandparents were raised in the Agrarian age; they had little to no financial wisdom to instill in our parents. And, even though some of our parents had the luxury of receiving a formal education; they were not fully equipped with the most basic financial knowledge to bestow upon us.

As a result, we are living above our means and buying items we cannot afford. Firstly, we have become evangelists about competing with the next person, even if it means raking up more debts. Secondly, our biggest foe is lifestyle inflation – every time our income escalates, our spending goes up as well. Credit cards have become an integral part of our lifestyles, so much so that when we tell our children we cannot afford something, their response is, “Just put it on a credit card”.

As you may have already gleaned, the financial oppression I am referring to is not that of a white supremacist, but that of our own unhealthy financial habits. Let us fight for our financial independence by making a conscious decision to change our mindset about money, getting out of debt, changing our spending habits and setting saving goals. Let us move away from the “work hard, earn money, and spend it, and when we run out of money, we can always borrow more” philosophy.
Tua Kalola

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