Home ownership should be among the top priorities for someone who is planning on having a peaceful retirement. When the generation after you finds some property to call home, they will find themselves navigating through the activities of life easily. Family property is a step ahead already, and those that have to start building foundations on their own will have to work twice as much. There are self-made millionaires, yes, but generational wealth is built on years of experience, formulation, and tradition. Never put off thinking about what you will do with a lump-sum payment. It is never enough, and usually, by the time one receives it, the value (Kwacha) is not as initially thought. Imagine those who were receiving theirs during the COVID pandemic; the dynamics of doing business or acquiring property had changed so much that the lump sum was already shot even before receiving it. The unstable politics in Africa are something else that will definitely affect what the lump sum can do.

FACT: All civil servants are able to build a house by the time they reach 10 years of service. I know individuals that have even less income than the average civil servant, and they still own property. My taxi driver friend told me about how he used to work for a bag of cement a day until he finished building his house in the Mtendere area. Amai Banda, my mother’s office assistant, had her house complete before she retired. Many others that I know saved gradually until their houses were finished.

FACT: If your education or business cannot build you a house in 10 years, there is a need to strategize and move on to something that will. It is not healthy to hang onto something that only torments you; life is too short, and the world has a lot to offer or avenues to exercise your potential. I mean, I retired at 35 years old, and five years later, believe me, I’ve learned a lot of things I was blind to while working.

Fact: Most villagers in Zambia are property owners by the age of 30. With their degrees, the city boys and girls are experts at updating their social media status and selecting the next big thing in terms of clubs at the same age.

FACT: All universities and colleges have traffic jams during graduation, yet a number of the graduates were riot participants for bursaries. The parents of a number of the graduates would rather maintain expensive cars and still want the government to pay for their children’s tuition fees. A poor person who is in desperate need of an education and whose tuition is paid for should not be able to riot for a meal allowance.

As one is working at home ownership, it is about the mind and focus. Once in employment, the road map should be set, and home ownership should be part of the to-do list. There are a number of real estate companies or other ways in which you can acquire property. Never should anyone think that they are too young to own property; actually, the earlier the better because land is always appreciating. When I checked the price at which my father bought the house I grew up in, I was shocked at the current prices. The old man died when I was 13, but the lessons he taught me about real estate are still fresh in my mind. I know that even after he died, it was just a matter of fending for food since the place to lay the head had already been prepared. Even now, after I have my own family, I thank “Bwemunyama Leisure Mwaaba” for building that house; he died at 44. I keep on imagining how difficult life would have been without the house. Never reach retirement without a place you call your own. Retired people should not rent or stay in institutional houses. In other words, retirement entails settling down. You will have to make sure that you start something while you are still employed. This can be either in the compound, village, or city, depending on what your budget may be. All the allowances during the trips, or the bonuses, are just time and chance being given. So you have to utilize such opportunities very well. Rented or institutional houses can be located in beautiful, secure neighbourhoods, but the underlying fact is that they are not yours. The individual in the village with a hut or a “mudadada ku Chawama” (my hood) is better cause he or she will have somewhere to keep his family or leave them if tragedy struck.

The author is a retired officer of the Zambia Airforce and an Advocate. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or Whatsapp: +260 97 9165574