A RECENT video showing former president Edgar Chagwa Lungu wearing a cheap branded golf-shirt for a local mobile phone service provider made very sad viewing, at least from the comments by some people who posted on Facebook and other social media platforms. ‘He has finished so fast,’ went one comment.
But seriously retirement really bruises us very badly. In this video, flanked by some of his former ministers who went to pay a courtesy call on him, ECL looked haggard and in low spirits. He spoke in a defeatist tone and his greying hair may be a call to quickly find him another barber.
This video doing rounds on social media reminds me of the story of the Styrofoam cup. Now this story tells of a former US Secretary of State who once had everything done for him. The story, told in the third person, says every time he went for official functions, he would find every detail laid out for him and all he could do was just present himself at the reception and introduce himself. He would be served coffee or tea in a ceramic cup. He was called ‘Sir’ at every turn and others had to carry luggage for him. He enjoyed all the perks and benefits that went with his high office.
But once the Secretary of State left office the real world settled in. He now had to do everything for himself and if he was to give any speech at any hotel he had to find his way from the lobby to the conference room. If he was to be served tea, then it had to be in a Styrofoam cup, not ceramic cup. Now Styrofoam cups are those cheap, disposable and lightweight plastic cups whose only value is to prevent heat loss.
This is all similar to what happened to our former president, reality has settled in after leaving office. This is all similar to many others who have once held high offices. If you look at anyone that was a politician, manager or CEO of any company, life is never the same after leaving office. When you are at the helm of a company or any organization, you are literally adored and everyone wants to associate with you. Sometimes others even offer to pay for some services for you. Talk about the US secretary of state! The narrator of this story says all the adoration, advantages and perks that you get as manager or CEO of a company or any organization are not for you, but for the title you hold. You can get them and enjoy them, but remember the Styrofoam cup!
Retirement blemishes us because work environment tends to prescribe a certain dress code, how you walk and even how you comb your hair. Army officers, high ranking police superintendents, lawyers, doctors and nurses are expected to dress and present themselves in a certain way. For example, former president Edgar Lungu had people around him while in office to remind him to dress and look a certain way. Before he appears to the public a team of image builders would probably check him up and insures that he passes the public appearance test.
Now don’t think that I’m just talking about other people, for I myself had had similar experience when Ilost my job from the mines in 2009. To survive I had to start selling food stuffs in street corridors and some of the people who knew me from work used to scoff at me. But I never used to knock off empty handed and, in fact, some former workmates started to ask for some food and money from me on credit! But make no mistake, former president Edgar Lungu isn’t broke; it’s just that time to be real has come.
And by the way, how you dress and how you look is a matter of perception and not what you are going through in reality. Many time we dress to impress others. If you can afford to take care of your needs and manage your family well, that’s all important. For example, when I left the mines and started selling on the streets, some people thought I was miserable. But to be fair I could make a few bucks and was able to buy bread and butter for my family. And to keep my moods high, I started to write, as I do to this day. And hustle when I can. And I suppose ECL is writing his memoirs.
But don’t worry, if you stick with Home and Family column you might have a chance to read about how to deal with retirement. So watch out for this column next time around.
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