MY FIRST ENCOUNTER
It was a typical Friday evening in the city of Jos. The moon lit the star-filled sky, cool breeze whispering as usual, with friends in small groups scattered all over the courtyard sharing stories and telling the gossip of the week.
My best friend and I were seated outside right on the steps leading to our dorm room. There we were, a couple of JSS1 students getting to know more about each other, our families and bonding over things we had in common. Among the stories we shared, one told by Caroline stood out to me:
‘My father passed away when I was very young. The memories I have of him are faint. My father was a very rich man and we lived in a very big house; he loved and spoiled us with whatever we wanted. My father fell ill and passed away shortly after. After the burial, his siblings came to the house and divided his properties among themselves leaving nothing for us. They also wanted to take us away from our mother but she fought to keep us; they could have all the wealth they wanted, but not her children. We moved out of the place we once called “home” and started life afresh. We had no choice but to adjust to the new life we had found ourselves in; it was not funny at all!’.
This was sad. I mean, at age 11 I knew life wasn’t pleasant all through but I was still oblivious to certain hardships people experience at the death of a loved one. I had thought things like this only happened in nollywood movies. Still, at that age, I knew about Wills:
‘Why didn’t he write a will to protect all of you?’ I asked, ‘he thought he would recover, everyone thought so too; it was a common illness. He didn’t think he would die that soon’ was her reply.
The truth is no one ever does. No one ever plans to die; it is a taboo to even think about death in our cultures (as if we have been guaranteed tomorrow). Every now and then I would think how different Caroline’s life would have been had her father simply written a Will or created a Trust for his children. I probably would never have met her seeing as she would have gone to one of the elite high schools in Jos, Plateau state.
We hear similar stories like this all around us, some of us are even aware of our cultures that practice this kind of cruelty, but we still have many who are yet to take such steps as to protect the future of their loved ones and ensure that this error does not happen to their families left behind.
I am Dinah Joshua and I invite you all to join me as we explore the world of Wills and Trusts.