Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

When birthdays become scary events – Series 1 of 2

Every first week of November, we celebrate two birthdays in the family – my birthday and that of my niece, Anaya Kirabo. Both birthdays are on extreme ends of the age continuum – Anaya has just made four, and I will turn fifty in just over three years.

Those close to Anaya will want to ensure that her great early-childhood-development and the journey to adulthood continues uninterrupted.  On the other hand, at my age, my fascination is retirement and how to sustain my quality of life in retirement. We have to assume that the Almighty will allow both myself and Anaya many years on mother earth; this request is particularly true for me since I may have already used a large chunk of my earthly time allocation.

All said, join us in wishing Anaya a euphoric birthday today!


Despite the fact that I still have 15+ years to my retirement, I am aware that retirement raises questions many cannot answer. When they do provide the answers, they aren’t always the right answers.  It is not far fetched to write in this blog series that birthdays can become a real burden as we grow up – sadly, we cannot stop birthdays.

Therefore, the Effectiveness lab dedicates this blog series to pushing us all, to ask the right questions about adequate preparation for retirement. Are you headed for sustainable retirement or not? Sustainable meaning having a means to sustain a living income/cash flow (above the poverty line) when you retire.

For Africans like myself, while it is always an option, sustainable retirement does not mean living off your children’s income.  The latter robs your offspring of the opportunity to save early for their old age and sustains the vicious cycle of ineffective retirement schemes. Later in this blog, we will share why it’s foolhardy to bank on your offspring in retirement.  The latter is quickly becoming a very ineffective retirement strategy, even at  Nakabugu, where we still are very tradiotional Africans.

Lessons from BBC world Service:

Back in August, while driving to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi to catch a flight, I listened with intent to a BBC world radio program that discussed the end of the ‘Age of golden retirement’. On the program retirement was defined as ’the short period of rest before death’. I learnt that the UK pension scheme model that has worked so very well for many years is creaking under the pressure of shifting population demographics, volatile stock markets that make pension fund management a high-risk exercise, long periods of unemployment, etc. If things are this difficult in the Western world, what about mother Africa, especially our Uganda?

We do not profess to be social security experts – however; we foresee a situation where many, and we talk to our Uganda and in particular Nakabugu village, are headed for desperation in retirement. Pension planning is so complicated a subject matter that many avoid discussing it, assuming that the Almighty God will take care of them in retirement.

Uganda being Uganda, some that have not planned well for old age, continue to be saved by the will of God. Even without anything to show for a retirement scheme, these Ugandans live comfortable lives in their villages. However, they are a minority; even God can be overwhelmed by retirement planning.

Metrics for a viable retirement:

  • Financial planners recommend that you save 10% to 15% of your income for retirement
  • Start saving in your 20s.
  • It pays to get a little more specific by doing your homework up front.
  • The retirement calculator – get to see where you are at and where you want to end

The African retirement planning dilemma:

Of course, I and my lineage in Nakabugu village want to retire in comfort – however; there are so many factors that are out of our control.  The sheer condemnation to desperation in retirement, even of the educated, is concerning:

ALSO READ: ‘We are painting in the dark series.’ 

  • Many in work do not earn a living wage; whatever they save is not enough to provide for a comfortable retirement
  • The very high rates of unemployment and emerging post-NEET’s situation may result in the current youth approaching retirement with no savings of their own
  • Those in the informal sector, are not keen to put money aside for social security purposes – those working in the formal sector are lucky since their provision for social security is compulsory. We are not known for putting money aside for a rainy day unless forced to do so
  • Africans had a viable social safety net – children looked after their parents in old age.  However, the African social safety net is all but dead, replaced by a western model that is also failing at source (in the West).
  • Also, the African millennial kid is a different kind of creature; they may not have all the time required to provide for their old parents. Even if they wanted to, circumstances might not allow them to do so. We are witnessing a ‘third-culture’ child in Nakabugu village and Uganda, that doesn’t believe in the so-called African social safety net of old, and won’t bow to its demands.
  • A botched national health service model in Uganda, and I believe many other African countries, has resulted in many spending all their meagre savings on medical treatment
  • The credit-card, bank loans, spendthrift culture, has left both young and old unable to save for their retirement and permanently in debt

What does one do to enjoy the so-called ‘short period of rest before death’?:

Is retirement viable for you? For those that are ageing, let us make our birthday’s happy moments.

Look out for blog 2 of 2 next week


2 responses to “When birthdays become scary events – Series 1 of 2”

  1. Khamila Nsereko Avatar
    Khamila Nsereko

    My dia Anaya and uncle Bobo what an age difference ,when they say that at different age brackets our priorities are very different, it becomes a point of discussion and time to checkout your priorities in respect to your age.


    1. Hkn muuna – very true! Hope Anaya enjoyed her day!


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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