Where I am from, children are the retirement plan. We have many proverbs to back this up, Omo eni l’ò̩la (children are ‘the tomorrow’). This is probably one of the reasons there is pressure to procreate.
Most of the people I grew up with are subsistence farmers, they have enough to live comfortably. Many managed to build a house and paid for children’s education – formal or informal. For many people after the children are out of the house, things become a bit easier with a little surplus to live comfortably on, however, in many cases, there is not enough to pay a chunk of money for unexpected medical care (medical insurance in small town is a rarity).
From pulling money together to help elderly parents needing medical care to making visiting arrangements between siblings – this is all without saying the responsibility of children. Many parents will get this old age bonuses, unfortunately, some would not.
For many children, it is a joyful task, for others it is cumbersome. I suppose we all have different reasons for looking back to help elderly parents.
I can not and would never see my children as a retirement plan, this is because I believe my parents made huge sacrifices that I was a witness to so I could stay in stay in school so I am happy to be their retirement plan, the task is joyful and lighter as I am one of five – everyone does their fair share.
The story of Mrs Bolaji Isaac caught my attention a few weeks ago. 85 year old woman in Lagos, she has been sleeping with a good samaritan who opened her door as the old lady was not feeling well and claimed her children and relatives had abandoned her.
Nigeria newspapers tend to be one-sided but here Punch did a job reaching out to get the children side of this story.
The story goes that Mrs Isaac has five children for four different fathers. Only two of the five boys were mentioned in the story. She used to live with one of her children but moved out to live on her own, eventually had to move out again due to some circumstances.
The words that was repeated several times while describing Mrs Isaac was ‘troublesome’, she was ‘troublesome’ so her landlord gave her a quit notice. She was ‘troublesome’ hence her son can no longer let her live in with him and his family.
Just thinking about Mrs Isaac lifestyle, a woman who has five children with four different fathers sounds like an independent woman who probably enjoys her own company and unlikely to be happy in a constrained environment.
Anyway, a story like this is sad because 85 year old lady with nothing to her name in a big city like Lagos may be able to get by with people gifting her food and roof above her head but if she comes down needing any medical attention, it will be problematic to get anyone to stand by her.
This is exactly what happened to Mrs Isaac, she had a partial stroke two weeks ago at Old People Home and later died due to complications. May her soul rest in peace.
It’s good to read that the Lagos state government took care of Mrs Isaac when no family comes forward.
Seems it ended not too bad afterall, one of her sons said he talked to her before she passed away and now are making plans with siblings for burial.
Mrs Bolaji Isaac is said to be from Ondo state, if I know my people well enough, now all the five sons are going to come out, they will cry so much that even neighbours will join them and after that is done, they will throw a big Owambe party. The money they claimed not to have all this while will suddenly sufficed – it is well.
While I am not judging these guys, Yoruba says àìsàn làá wò, enìkan kìí wo ikú – spend to give your loved ones good health, once dead, that’s the end (this is far from literal meaning but only the gist of it.