Sunday, May 26, 2024

Folly of Africans abroad building mansions back home for caretakers to live in and enjoy

Co-Op post

Is building mansions in your home country when you move abroad and start making good money? This is a question that has oftentimes divided opinion.

On one hand is the line if argument that one should never forget where they came from and should invest for a rainy day.

On the other hand is the line of thought that one should invest in their new land abroad. In a hard-hitting write up, Ghanaian journalist Chris-Vincent Agyapong advanced the counter-argument that it is folly building mansions back home since the mansions left behind easily end up being enjoyed by other people including caretakers.

Here is how Vincent argued his stand:

“Many caretakers looking after the properties of those living abroad—are the true owners or beneficiaries of these properties.

Usually, an African will erect a beautiful house back home while living abroad and then another person called a caretaker will be employed to live in the house, enjoy the house and watch over the house every day.

The legal/actual owner visits once a year for about 2-3 weeks to enjoy the property. The caretaker enjoys it every day.

Interestingly, the caretakers enjoy the property right from completion (when everything is fresh and beautiful). 10 or 15 years later, the legal owner (if lucky) may finally return home to enjoy the remnant of the property (when style, taste, and beauty have all diminished).

Why? Because we are told this is what we ought to do. Build back home when you are never there—spend your money on things far away from you—for others to enjoy.

Even if I was not a minimalist, I couldn’t also see any good reason why a person with a family size of 3 or 4 (wife and a child or two children) would build a 9-bedroom house in Africa—leaving about 6 rooms empty all the time to be occupied, probably, by the ghosts of their ancestors.

Apart from the obvious wastage in having a 9-bedroom family house, that the rooms are never used by the family and the cost of maintenance is always a financial drain or another waste of resources.

You wouldn’t go and buy 10 packs of an expensive snack in the morning and just eat 3 and throw away the 7–simply because you can afford it. So why do the same with buildings?

I know someone who is building a 12-bedroom house in an African  city as his personal residence—and this has taken 9 years so far—he is still on it.

In the meantime, he is renting a small room in Holland—and he says he will one day leave to go to Ghana to live in his mansion. He may die in Holland.

Currently, the design of this mansion is even outdated—and he has at least 5 years more to complete based on the pace.

Big business lesson I learned after losing money in joint potatoes investment

In 2018, a cousin of mine, 43 years, died in the USA from a heart attack while asleep. It was 3 days after his death that he was found. He too was living in a small room, working 13 hours a day for 6 days and putting all his monies into building a 9-bedroom house in Accra, Ghana.

When he died, his family (wife) sold the house—it was too big for them to even maintain if it was completed. This was not also completed.

A lot of Africans abroad indeed build houses back home to create a certain impression of themselves or just to show off—and while doing so, they forget to live in the moment—thinking they will one day (when on pension or old) go and enjoy these houses.

Who is an old man or woman going to impress? At 65 and over, you will be frail, battling to live each day and no one will care.

How many people really live to enjoy anything beyond the pension age? At age 65 or 70, what would you be doing with a 12-bedroom residential house? In fact, how are you going to climb the stairs at that age?

When white people get old, they sell their huge houses to downsize but we seem to want to live like rats when young and energetic, and then live like kings and queens when we are about to die.

While we must plan for the future, we must do so prudently and with the wisdom that today is all we really have—the future is a probability.

Don’t grossly neglect your now because of a probability, tomorrow.

Invest in your future but do so while living a meaningful and balanced life today.”

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