A while back, there was a storm on social media and then in mainstream international media. It was about star striker Togolese Emmanuel Adebayor’s spat with his family. He penned a long post on his Facebook account about his over-demanding family which he accused of not giving a damn about him but only his money. As a player in the English Premier League, Adebayor earns quite a tidy sum every so often running into billions of shillings.
In his post, among other accusations, he said his family had sold his cars and rented a house he had bought them. He cried out about supporting his family from the moment he started earning money and built his parents a permanent house at age 17.
Saying he had gone ahead to make the lives of his parents and siblings including step sisters and brothers better.
He did not mention uncles and cousins as well as some village elders as beneficiaries but I am sure his generosity and benevolence benefited them all. They kept demanding for more every time.
Many Kenyans empathized with him because in one way or another they have been, just like him, held hostage by relatives. Sickness, school fees, food or hosting visitors are some of the excuses used to get more and more money from their working relatives. In order to meet these unending demands, the workers put on hold their projects, delaying their personal development, as they sort out their family’s needs.
Often, not-so-needy relatives ride on the back of the ever present begging bowl to squeeze some little money from you. Aunts call, nay, ‘flash’ and when you call back to find out what the problem is, they will ask you for credit (airtime) and give you a list of items they would like you to sort out financially.
Have you sometimes felt your heart miss a beat when you saw the number of a close family members or craft a quick excuse to explain why you cannot raise the money they are requesting for before you pick that phone.
Do you sometimes feel like you are being exploited? That they are mining a ‘gold mine’ without caring about its replenishment? I feel it sometimes. When relatives come home for any form of assistance, your mother will call you claiming she needs money to pay the veterinary doctor who gave her a staggering bill after attending to a sick cow.
Daughters suffer most in the hands of aggressive family members. Daughters are usually viewed as investment; that they will not allow you suffer as they can even borrow to ensure you are comfortable. True. But why ‘exploit’ your daughter to the point that she will live in debt to ensure you are fed?
Some ways you can deal with this persistent headache:
Don’t give fish; show them how to fish:
This is a tough one as everyone wants freebies without a sweat. But be tough. Tell them you will get a loan to help them establish some kind of business or any other income generating activities.
Paying school fees:
While children joining secondary school is not an accident and parents are expected to plan ahead for that eventuality, sometimes some are too poor to cobble together any meaningful amount. So if you take up a relative’s child, for example, pay school fees directly to the school.
Do not send to the parents as the money might end up diverted to other activities that are not of your concern. It is important to know that your money has gone to serve the right purpose.
Perennial fertilizer, seeds and labour costs: Sit down your parents and tell them you are not doing any of that any more but you will buy them say two sacks of maize per year. This is much cheaper if you take into account the implements put into the cultivation of maize.
Learn to say no:
You are not going to put your personal plans on hold to make other people’s lives smoother. Sometimes saying you do not have money to give empowers you.
Everything in your name:
If your parents and siblings, for example, want you to buy them land for cultivation, buy it in your name and let them use it as long as they want – but keep the title. This is the only way to ensure it is not sold behind your back.