(Episode One)
It is surprising how individuals know certain facts of life, yet want to avoid talking about them even when it is clear that it is a possible destination for them. The subject of retirement is one that is rarely talked about, and once individuals attain the age of retirement or are either retired on medical or disciplinary grounds, the news of it hits like a shock wave. Retirement is a topic that those actively working choose not to critically talk about or prepare for. I have seen family members or former workmates who were shocked that the time to retire had come, even to the extent of being admitted to hospital, so shocked as if retirement had come upon them so suddenly yet they would have worked in their respective institution for over twenty years and had foreseen the day slowly approaching.

The trend has always been that individuals especially in Zambia want to start preparing for the retirement lifestyle few years before they actually retire. Ideally in the earlier days of employment, we tend to be so careless that all the allowances or remuneration only goes to entertainment, fashion, and wheels. The thought of securing property or materialising business ideas is a thing for the old. By the time the realisation comes about there is so much panic that now as a Director or Head of Department one would want to be on every trip so as to finish their projects, frustrating the juniors in the organisation. It is surprising why everyone waits up until the last hour to put things in order for a lifestyle that requires property systems in place.

Strange enough by the time I was being commissioned in the Zambia Airforce as a Second Lieutenant on 4th November 2005 by the Late President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, my mind was halfway thinking about how I should retire from the Defence Force. Such that by the time the Zambia Airforce was sending me to college two years after graduating, I had already devised a plan I coded “Operation 2013” because I was not going to work for the same institution for more than ten years, I told myself, “I have found a job, but I am longing for something more.” One of my close friends pulled me to the side and tried to talk me out of the whole idea. He was so sure that now that we had graduated as Officers and were done with the military training I would feel better.

Believe you me, my promotions were on time and the conditions of service good enough to even educate me and some of my siblings. However, my earlier thoughts of something more were now mixed with visuals of individuals that had failed to make it in society once they were no longer in active service. Individuals who had become destitute and failed to cope once the salary and other privileges that come with employment were withdrawn from them. I saw individuals who had arisen to top positions in the institution being lowered in status now that retirement had hit. I kept on asking myself, is retirement a sentence to condemnation, a life of begging or being a destitute?

I once gave up my acceptance into the Copperbelt University to become an Officer in the Zambia Airforce. Later on, after fifteen years of service I gave up being an Officer to follow yet another dream of being an Advocate. In between all this I have been a marketeer, farmer, chef, taxi driver, cross boarder trader, barber man and a chairman for a market. And in all these life experiences I have come to learn that life has no script. Retirement is not a destination but a lifestyle.

The truth of the matter is that whether you retire early or wait until you attain the age of retirement, retirement is surely coming, and it is a phase you have to prepare for. It is a lifestyle that will need to be lived right. Many have failed to cope and have lost their life in the end because they chose to ignore the need to make sure that they were ready at the time of retirement.

I finally retired from active service at the age of 35 and each time I mention to people that I am retired, I am asked the same question – Why? With a smile my response is that I was bored and wanted something more. What is this something more? Join me on this journey as we unveil essentials to be in your bag as you retire.