When I was a pikinini, (yes you read that part right, PIKININI!), all I ever dreamed of was buying my mother a house somewhere on top of a hill. A rich hill. The type of neighbourhood where the neighbours don’t know each other, they know of each other.
My mother so happens to be an introverted extrovert so she would survive. She is the type of person to have hundreds of friends but never check on one. People like her, but she does fine without them.
For the life of me, I cannot recall why this was such a burning desire for me. Unlike other children, I never had dreams of buying a Beemer or Benz like Beenie Man when he sang, “Sim simma, whooo got the keys to mi Beeeemer!?,” No, a house on the hill was all I ever saw for my mother.
Why? I wanted to repay her for all that she had been through, all because I was born. I felt obligated to pay her back for the years that she had lost taking care of me. Most of these years were not filled with sunshine and rainbows but rather, hailstorms and lightning.
Suffice to say, we did not have it easy. So, I set out to become the best child I could be, I would get good grades, never let her worry… much, and just be a good kid. I was an okay child, I got above average results and I am still a good son.
But I am turning 28 this year, and my dreams have changed. I can no longer see that dream I had 13 years ago as my main goal. It relegated to being a stepping stone on my way to much more bigger things.
Also, my vision has changed. I now want things for myself. It’s true, my mother and family still take up a lot of space in the movie of my life, but I have begun seeing myself as taking the starring role, “Seterine klaar.”
This is what most black young professionals suffer from, it’s called GUILT! Especially those coming from a background of not having much. Those you have tasted poverty. Felt it. Touched it. Only to have rose from the dust to make something of yourself like a phoenix from ash. But you don’t feel like you will ever own the success you achieve because it was not through your own efforts that you made it out.
Your parents struggled to put you through school; you know this because they won’t let you forget. In fact, if anything, you probably have this conversation every weekend when you are home visiting. It goes like, “Thabo, I want a new bathroom, I know you can afford it Mmanyeo. I have seen that new car of yours. To buy yourself a car when you have not bought your own mother anything, not after everything I have done for YOU!”
Young black professionals fear two things, student loans and black tax. These two debts are not very different. One of them you pay because it put you through school and put a degree in your hands. Essentially opening up doors for you. The other you pay because it put oxygen in your lungs, food in your belly, clothes on your back and a shelter over your head.
Besides, one is finite and can actually be fully repaid. It’s not a myth, I do know of people who have repaid their student loans. While the other debt is everlasting, because you owe your life to your family, you will spend the rest of your life paying them back. But why is it called BLACK TAX?
Join us as KEMNET Networks Lesotho unpacks this issue and hopefully come to some resolutions and sustainable solutions on how to deal with BLACK DEBT.