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Sunday, June 9, 2013

A House A Spouse & A Cow

Tell me if you can; what is the relation between a house, a spouse and a cow? The replies to this riddle make fun reading. Yet there is great wisdom in these simple words. The counsel I am about to share with you, comes from the heart of Africa. When I set out on my first job, my father took me aside. In the spirit of local wisdom, he said to me...

Now, my son, I see that you have successfully finished school and have obtained yourself a job. You have graduated from childhood and I must charge you to quickly do three things; first, build yourself a house. Second, marry a wife – a good woman. Third, buy a cow and let me look after it for you… 

Wise words are not hard to recall, but they are easy to ignore. Twenty years later, those words still ring clear as a bell, in my mind. The first I did with speed, but only to please my father. The second I took my time, but eventually got round to. The third, I delayed and have paid the price. There is no need for you to do the same – only, you must understand the meaning of a house, a spouse and a cow and the relationship between them.
In the old days a house, a wife and a cow reflected social status and personal wealth. I thought that my father was passing on some wise words from his own father that really had no meaning or use for me today.
A House
I built the house and for four years, I lived there in a state of calm refuge. I was teaching in a nearby school and could enjoy the ease and access of my very own two-roomed “apartment”. I began to feel quite proud of myself for having done so much so early in my career. Building a house back then was a huge feat.  I had achieved high social status quite quickly in life. In those days, brick houses in the countryside were few and far apart. Very few people could afford such luxury in the village.
In time, the call of the city was too tempting. Like many other young people, I soon left the village, and headed off to the city to look for a better job. I found a new job, moved into a house and really enjoyed my climb up the corporate ladder. Four years passed quickly. As I enjoyed my new lifestyle, I found that my finances had become very rigid. I was earning more money, but had less of it to spend. Something was eating all the money I earned.
My budgets, try as I might, were frigid, flat and without profit. When I finally sat down to look into the problem, guess what I found was my biggest single expense – Rent! If you are not living in your own house, it is probably your biggest expense too. Rent is money you spend that adds no value to you. Rent pays for your convenience, but does not make you rich. Rent consumes your income and drains your wealth. The rent I paid out was making me poor.  I began to miss my house in the village.
Now let us read that “house building” advice again. Rephrase it, and update it and relate it to your circumstances... It means that; if you do not live in your own house, you will give away a major (sometimes up to 50% of income) part of the wealth you earn from your job to someone else. A house is not a house in the village. It is a home, which you own, in which you live, leave to go to work and return to find peace and rest from the pressures of the outside world under your own roof.  It is a roof under which you enjoy the fruits of your labour. A house should not be a place where you live under pressure. That is pretty useful advice!
            Let me tell you a secret; a tenant paying rent of 100,000/= to live in a high-class flat and another paying 100/= for a room in a slum have one thing in common. Neither of them owns the property. None is richer or poorer by living in a rented house. The truth is one of them gives away more money for room and board. A home (house), which you own, makes much cents - I mean sense.

Excerpt from the book - How to Prosper in Employment by Allan Bukusi 

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