I find myself worried about the current financial state and future of the Namibian people. As I walk through city centre, I can’t help but notice the multitude of Cash Loan establishments (micro lenders) and I wonder just how many of these establishments there are in Windhoek alone. Also, why on earth are there so many? Who sustains them? The answer is simple really; Namibians have become a people accustomed to living in debt. These establishments are kept afloat by individuals who are not eligible for bank loans because (sometimes) they’re net income is too low but mainly because they already have a mortgage bond, an overdraft and vehicle financing for 2 luxury vehicles.
The questions are then I guess; why are we wearing clothes, driving cars and living in houses that we can’t afford? Why is it that we, as adults, professionals and leaders, still succumb to peer-pressure like teenagers?
Children grow up understanding that to be respected; you must live a lavish lifestyle. Unfortunately, appearing to be excessively wealthy has become more important than actually working hard and creating real wealth.
Moreover, the culture of living within ones means is practically non-existent. Recently, a friend of mine called it a lack of financial literacy. I tend to agree. But more than that, I think it’s the inability within our nation to find contentment with what one has. Despite the general consensus, I find it difficult to believe that it’s an issue of poverty. Of course poverty plays a major role however; I cannot believe that it is the sole reason as generally, the people with the biggest debt are those who earn the most money.
I believe we should be an ambitious nation. We should strive for financial security, wealth if you please, but we should never for a second find ourselves valuing money above all else. Most importantly, we should break the cycle of debt and learn to live within our means. I think if I may, that we as a nation need to reevaluate our priorities. We, as a nation, need to search for and find contentment in things that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
Published: 28 February 2014, The Namibian Newspaper