Someone once told me, “most women want me for my money, so I have to be careful of whom I associate with; especially intimately so that they won’t target my inheritance by accusing me of getting them pregnant”. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this was: is your dad going to die soon? Or is there a timetable somewhere that nobody knows about? What about the fact that you’re objectifying yourself with your “father’s” wealth that you don’t know if it’ll get handed to you during your lifetime just as girls objectify themselves by saying that every guy wants them (just) for sex. Also, don’t you think the fact you’re so careful to preserve the wealth says more about your own belief in your ability to be wealthier than your father is and could ever hope to be if you try something on your own, even if you set out on your own path as a penniless homeboy.
That wasn’t the first I had heard someone make such statements and it made me wonder about our attitude to wealth. How we believe in generational wealth, building organisations and making crazy money that’ll be handed down from one generation to another because no parent wants his/her child plus the grandchildren that are to come to suffer and parents want to leave a lasting “legacy” that will outlive them. But when parents do this, groom their kids to take over the family business, prepare their kids to grow and sustain the family wealth, I wonder if that’s a good thing in itself. Because what we have are young men and women who aren’t tapping into their natural abilities to create their own world but are sent off to business schools and trained in fields that most times they wouldn’t choose for themselves had they been given the choice. I say this because I’ve asked a few people I know who come from wealthy homes what they would rather do instead of working in the family company or being prepped to take over from daddy and they mentioned things like: being a fashion designer, a basketball player, a professor, working in the media, etc. There’s no guarantee that they would have been a success in these fields but the fact still remains that that’s where their heart is.
Have you ever wondered why the second and third generation of a wealthy family hardly builds on what the first toiled to build? Why they hardly sustain the wealth? Why the family businesses hardly flourish when the younger generation take over? I really don’t have an answer to this which is why I’m writing about it but I want to bring in something else to this post. Who has heard of the giving pledge? In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to the society, this was while they were engaged to be married and we all know or maybe have heard of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the tremendous impact that the foundation is making in trying but not limited to alleviate poverty and find innovative ways to improve healthcare and also make it affordable to the poor. While the project and vision is an on-going one, Warren Buffet who is also super rich decided to give a huge part of his wealth to the Gates Foundation because he could see the impact and he trusted them, and this led to the birth of a campaign to get the wealthy all over the world to pledge to give 50% or more of their wealth to support a cause or charity of their choice in the cause of their lifetime or at the point of their death. About 128 billionaires have pledged to give away their money and the campaign hasn’t ended, people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna, etc are signatories to this pledge. These billionaires come from 14 countries across the world but amongst the 14 countries there is only about 1 or 2 that are African.
I’m not saying that these people won’t leave something for their children to inherit but what is obvious is that, that is not the primary focus of their wealth. But also what is profound about the wealth of these people is the fact that giving money away hasn’t taken them from their previously held position of being the world’s richest. This makes me wonder about the difference in attitude to wealth that we have here in Nigeria and probably Africa as a whole and that of the Westerners. Does the fact that what made them wealthy in the first place wasn’t the need to escape poverty like it is for a lot of billionaires in our country, but instead the fact that they allowed their creative minds fiddle with what fascinated them from a young age which got translated to what the world truly needs for development thereby making them a success constitute the huge gap in the way they relate to their wealth? In this our time of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, is it possible that our generation will ever prioritise the society and the needy as it relates to their wealth instead of coveting and acquiring the bling that sparkles the most, the latest cars, biggest houses, yachts and private jets just so the world will know how much we’ve made it and are balling?
Isn’t it possible that making the decision that whoever we are or will become, whatever we have and will have should transcend our very existence and personal pleasure would in turn take away undue mental pressure, lack of contentment and loss of peace from our professions and daily activities? And then the children, is the need to preserve, sustain and grow the family wealth up to the 100th generation if possible causing parents to raise kids who stifle their natural gifts, talents and abilities just so they’ll become mini dad and mum, and live out the rest of their parents dreams not by choice but out of a sense of duty?
Yes we all have to be careful of who we let into our lives, but does being careful really help us sieve the wrong people or does it make us limit ourselves to experiencing only a handful of people who we believe albeit rather wrongly are with and for us for the right reasons? If we aren’t objectifying ourselves for these reasons, why is it then that what we show are the very things we don’t want to be loved and accepted for instead of portraying who we really are, allowing ourselves to be truly seen and known?
Image via www.3vadmin.com