Non-material Inheritance

A lot of us Africans know that our great-grandparents did not leave us a trust fund to be used when we turn 25 or some other fancy dream like that. Even when our parents die, few of us can claim an inheritance, especially the female children. In Shona custom, the male child is often the heir to whatever inheritance is left behind, such as a house or estate and whatever possessions. The female children are expected to marry and live with their husbands, hence not much is left to them in terms of an inheritance. My point is, even having an inheritance to speak of is not common. Most impoverished families are left with a house or a few rooms they have been renting for years and a pile of bills to pay.

When my father died last year, I realised that there is such a thing as non-material inheritance. He was not a wealthy man so I did not inherit any material possessions after his death. None of my siblings did. My family was one that we were always told that education is our inheritance. My mother used to sing that song every school term before I left for boarding school. So, I knew from a very early age that my parents’ investment in my education (school fees) was sowing into my inheritance, which is knowledge, that I can transfer into getting employment and therefore be able to take care of myself.  Growing up like this taught me the value in things non-material, things that actually outlive us as mortal beings. That is why I value education so much and I will pass on this valuable lesson to my children one day.

One thing of immense value that I inherited from my late father was the love of writing. That man would write such beautiful words especially when he was feeling down. Like me, he used to keep a journal and he would write when inspired. He wrote poetry and words of wisdom (quotes) that looked like something from the book of Proverbs. The first time I ever saw the proverb “silence is golden” was in my father’s journal, that time I was 14 years old and he let me read it. I remember wondering for days what those three words meant, but I knew they were powerful. Years later I read that these words originated from ancient Egypt and in 1831, they were translated to English by the poet Thomas Carlyle.

Such was my father’s love for writing and he passed it on to me. Writing taught me to trust in my own voice, to believe in my dreams and to really love myself. Thanks for that Dad.

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Just thinking about non-material inheritance brings so many powerful emotions. Because usually, an inheritance comes after a loss. But, I am starting to think that when we strive to leave behind non-material things, they are more valuable than material things could ever be. The memory of the departed lives on unlike in an immovable possession like a house or a car.

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What would you wish to pass on to your children and/or family that would last forever? Something eternal that no one would ever take from them? 

Day 19 Blogtember Challenge

#MyAfricaMyWords

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