I wrote in the past about what to say to a loved one who is dying but steered clear of how to prepare for our own death. Not even Gaddafi knew the time or place he would face the angel of death. Most of us avoid thinking about death. We can sense when someone is about to die. We think death will not happen to us, not now anyway.
There is never a convenient time for childbirth, death and taxes as Margaret Mitchell said in her book Gone with the Wind (1936). A man dies – men often die earlier - leaving wife and several children. Before the mourning period is over, covetous relatives come and cart everything away. Another man dies while some assets are still in X-wife’s custody and name.
She quickly changes ownership papers to make current lover legal owner. Sounds familiar? A successful business woman dies leaving mourning hubby and wonderful children. In no time, hubby finds a warm bosom to console him in his grief. One thing leads to another like one Safari beer leading to another Serengeti drink. Soon grieving man is walking down the aisle to marry his new-found love and his name is not Billy Bayou.
You know the human heart is big and generous. You can love uncles, aunties, grandparents and workmates all at the same time. I tell you there is enough space in the heart to accommodate a few ladies in its lower chambers. But a woman loving the offspring of another as if they were her own is a different ball game. It is easier to any Tom or Dick with a heart bypass.
Before you can say they are an item, wonderful children of wife # 1 become these terrible kids of my dear husband in the eyes of wife #2. She punishes them so frequently as if she was giving first aid to victims of trauma. Forgiveness for even the most minor transgression becomes a tool for psychological manipulation.
Once missus Cruela takes control, your offspring can be bundled off to grandparents somewhere in Ruralitania. At grandma’s place they quickly learn to use a bush toilet called VIP, in the shamba -garden. Death of a parent can be a double blow if surviving relatives take away the children’s basic means of survival.
Extended families can become hunters in the Selous game park where herbivores eat grass, carnivorous eat herbivores while hyenas and vultures fight over the remains of the dead. Have you made provisions for your children madam? Your Nice House-buddy may remarry sooner than you think.
Easter will soon be here when Christians remember the crucifixion of prophet Issa bin Maryam. As he hung on the cross in agony, those who nailed Jesus to the wood could not wait for him to die. They divided his clothing among themselves and threw dice to determine who would get his undergarments. Mere soldiers, not relatives, mind you.
The world has not changed that much since those biblical times. There are countless friends and relatives who take full ownership of assets previously owned jointly when friend or relative dies. Some friends disappear from the radar with money he lent them at a time they could barely afford lunch. If it was not for the generosity of your husband they would be paupers.
Now they shamelessly claim the deceased was not coowner but advisor to their business. As I am fond of repeating, you can take a man out of the bush but not even the law of marriage act of 1971 can take the bush out of the greedy man. That bushness can compel a sane male to think he deserves to inherit his brother’s successful bombshell or bimbo of a wife and divide hardearned wealth to cousins who never said a kind word to him all his life. Nobody lives forever.
When the day comes for each son and daughter of Adam to approach the pearly gates of heaven and sign off in the book of numbers, there is no postponement. However, we can prepare for that day. Before you take the next trip to Kilimanjaro, London, Kampala, New York or Bangkok, indicate in writing how you would like your earthly possessions to be shared in the event you leave the planet without saying bye.
You will RIP if you can assure your loved ones will be properly taken care of. So why is it so difficult for people to draw up a will? In the 70s and 80s many Tanzanians could claim that they owned precious little to require a written will. Not any longer. There are many individuals and couples who have significant assets in cities and villages. All the houses, cars and businesses we see belong to someone.
Do you really want your relatives to fight over that rare Bang & Olufsen entertainment system? Which child should drive your Jaguar and whether Barrack Jnrgets the Obama memorabilia? If you have stashed a retirement nest in a secret Swiss bank account, confide in your Nefertiti.
That is why a wife is partner for life. If you borrowed large sums of money for your last political campaign, write the creditor’s particulars in black and white in your diary somewhere and tell your spouse about it. Am I being too blunt? That way she will not get a heart attack and soon follow you to eternal life when somebody comes knocking on the door to demand the millions you splashed on supporters and party faithful in the Usiamini constituency byelection. Write an individual will. Or a joint one since there is quite a bit of jointly-owned assets and liabilities. You will not die early from making a will but because your time has come.
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