INHERITANCE – A Curse or A Blessing

The Yorubas have a wonderful saying, ‘a gboju l’ogun f’ara e f’osi ta’ meaning ‘anyone who is dependent on the wealth of his parents without striving for his own is inviting poverty into his life.’ It is on this backdrop that this discourse is based.

Recently, my landlady’s children have been acting all sorts of drama a la ‘fuji house of commotion’ for those of you who saw the tv series. If you didn’t, then you’re either too young, or have missed an integral part of our history as a people, go get the dvds fast.

To get back on track, there had been a war brewing since the advent of the older daughter and her kids back to the house. The younger one who had hitherto been staying with her mum had systematically been denied rights and access that had accrued to her before then. The cold war brewed with hissing, dissent and malice. That degenerated into fisticuffs a few days back.

Unwilling to be suckered into the vortex of their family drama, thus having no desire to ‘know’ the real cause of the fight, which when duly scrutinized would have resulted in a battle for space, authority and inheritance. The perfect example for the necessity of personal wealth and financial freedom. I stayed aloof and played the part of a pacifist.

Having grown up in a worse environment than that being engendered in my landlady’s flat, (it’s the children fightings and wrangling because of their father’s house and inheritance). My own father was a polygamist and our house was the quintessential house of commotion, for there was no dearth of dramas to behold and marvel at. Still the children always managed to keep out of their mothers business, allowing the women sort themselves out in anyway they could.

Dad never intervened when there was a fight. He always got a driver to drive him out of the warzone most of the time, or locked himself in. Having fought in the civil war of Nigeria, he was an unwilling General of his house, and seldom chose sides and we his kids soon learnt that unspoken wisdom. Our mother’s fought for our perceived welfare, but we (the kids) couldn’t be bothered. And so life went on.

Today, as grown ups, there’s little animosity amongst us kids. Largely due to the fact that even after dad’s death, it was mandatory to get an education in my family. So all my father’s properties are there, being managed by the mothers who had fought, the kids unwilling (like our father had been) to get entangled in the affairs of the physical inheritance. The man had blessed us with the best one, education.

So as my landlady’s daughters fought, involving their own children, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if they had both gone to school, have university degrees and are gainfully employed, would they have warred and needed the intervention of neighbours? The answer sadly, is no.

From creation, man’s greed has caused him to constantly strive with his brother. Biblical accounts show that Abraham had to settle all his sons before his death, sending them far away. Only Isaac remained. That was how he solved the problem of strife and wranglings that his beloved son would have faced otherwise. From that time, man has blessed his children with his goods, dividing the inheritance for his children before he passes. Of worthy note is the prodigal son whose name wasn’t mentioned, just his excessive lifestyle. He wanted his father’s wealth whilst the man yet lived and squandered everything in a very short time.

In time, man devised to educate his children, equipping them for personal success without them having to be dependent on the parent’s wealth. It seldom works (read John Grisham’s ‘the testament’, or see ‘the ultimate gift’). So the real question then is, if both the educated and uneducated fight because of their parents wealth that they had no input in, then what hope lies ahead for our own kids?

Because, really, the same way my landlady’s daughters fought themselves because of their deceased father’s asset, is the way the wealthy man’s children with good education and prim morals also fight whether the man died intestate or with a will written. That same way is how our politicians fight shameless amongst themselves caring little for the people and the future generations. So I have to wonder, is getting an inheritance passed down a blessing, or a curse?

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