Growing up, it was not abnormal to hear from visiting and well-meaning relatives “soma ndio ukimaliza kusoma usomeshe wenzako (study so that you are able to help educate your siblings in the future).”
This statement was often stated as a form of encouragement. I never stopped then to interrogate the implications of this on myself and my financial well-being.
Fast forward years later, I graduate and come face to face with the reality of the Kenyan job market. As an entry level employee, being paid enough to get by, I was grateful then and now that my family did not place this burden on me.
My family had thankfully made arrangements for my sisters’ education. To the effect that I did not need to fork out money from my pocket for this.
I often wonder, how it must be then, for many of the first born sons and daughters who are expected to fully educate their siblings. This endeavor often turning them into deputy parents at 21 or 22 years of age.
Their years of campus misdeeds and debauchery hardly behind them. It is unfair of us, to put this expectation on children to educate their siblings.
Especially considering the availability of information and resources on financial planning that were simply not available to our parents.
My mother’s father, rest his soul, would have been forgiven for this. He did not know better. What about us, who are inundated daily by calls from insurance reps to buy a damn education plan?
Why aren’t we doing it?Is it any wonder then, that we have people in this country who have worked 20 years and do not have any savings to speak of? After educating their 3,4,5 siblings, they now have to contend with their own children.
Not to forget that these siblings are often ungrateful ingrates who do not value their education or the people that paid for it. We must rethink our values especially as they relate to how we finance education.
It cannot and should not be the responsibility of older children to educate their siblings. This is another form of black tax we impose on them.
Then wonder how they cannot save up enough capital to start their own businesses. We confine them to an eternity of poverty. And they will then transfer this to their children, and their children’s children.
Ensuring generations of poverty and humans who have not been able to leave out their full lives. This must end with us. Let us do better.