Guarantee Yourself a
Dignified Send-Off

Diaspora Death - Are You Covered?
Written by Tose Gava
Wednesday 20 July 2016 14:30

AS I sat down to write this blog, I am persuaded by two things; firstly, the desire to encourage dialogue in search of a lasting solution to the pain of bereaving and begging we continue to witness across diaspora communities and, secondly, my conviction that my small contribution may help one or two people change their fate.

Confronted by the reality that diaspora death is an age old social ill that has haunted diaspora communities from time immemorial, one wonders why it continues to be a topical nightmare today. Civilisation is achieved when a people craft a common solution for their common good.

Serve for animals in fairy tales which, when faced with a drought would come together and dig wells, animals in the bushes normally starve and dehydrate to death but human beings find solutions - that is, civilisation. Why then is diaspora death a thorny issue that, as a people, we struggle to overcome once and for all? As you read this article I challenge every reader to pose and ask themselves a simple question; ‘How am I covered?’

As a financial adviser one day I engaged a professional Diasporan in London about the need for end of life expenses cover and he made a remark that has stuck with me. Accepting that it was a real concern and need, he said “… I don’t want to end up on GoFundMe, I would like to cover myself and family but it really feels like digging my own grave…” There you are, in most conservative societies death is a taboo that people would rather completely avoid until there is no option.

This coffin prank sums it all, people fear anything to do with death:

There is no more certainty in our lives than the fact that every living thing, including animals and trees in the wildernesses, will come to pass. As the old adage goes; we begin to die the day we are born. So how does such a certainty become a taboo? Do we fear death or we fear the mystery of the post-death uncertainty? Is it not the fear of death that manifests this notional mind-set or belief that death is a taboo?

Whatever the fear, lets confront death as a realty that brings end of life expenses we all need to plan for. Accept that planning is nothing but bringing the future into the present so that one deals with it whilst you can.

Planning for one’s end of life expenses does not necessarily mean you are accepting death and therefore invariably fast-forwarding it. Neither does avoidance of the ‘taboo’ postpone the inevitable. Planning for your end of life guarantees a dignified send-off and gives family a chance to celebrate your life. Unfortunately, failure to plan for final expenses does have far-reaching consequences and will not buy anyone a second more, in terms of your lifespan.

By default, many responsible Diasporans become cash-cows for our clans, extended families, back home. I believe this is familiar with many Diasporans that, sometimes, you get to know of a bereavement or terminal illness back home before many relatives who actually live in Zimbabwe.

I remember one day telling my sister back home about a death in the family which I was informed of and word had not yet reached her in Harare. For the financial support one can offer, Diasprans are often sent the SOS news immediately. Expectedly, the sooner one is informed the quicker the financial intervention. As they say, ‘Awudzwa here? / Selimtshelile na?’ meaning has s/he been told of the mishap.

If you call the Diasporans wherever they may be the ‘Awudzwa here / Selimtshelile na’ group, you begin to see how diaspora death remains a bereaved family’s nightmare financially. Diaspora death, especially if it involves body repatriation, tends to be very expensive because suddenly the bereaved family has to have cash resources to cover costs of two prolonged funeral vigils back home and in diaspora, funeral church services, diaspora family travel, body repatriation, body clearance at the port of entry, transport and the burial itself. Not forgetting the cost of shipping the personal effects of the deceased and the ensuing probate process.

And, as the deceased family is bogged down with funeral, there is also the opportunity cost of not being able to pick shifts/jobs, meaning a double cost financially. This leaves a lot of families with no option but to literally beg from the wider community. Remember the only free funeral that you can be guaranteed of is a paupers’ burial. The day one has to be buried by little contributions from strangers on GoFundMe that almost equates to paupers’ burial. Why should a stranger contribute for your funeral?

The problem we have as the ‘Awudzwa here / Selimtshelile na’ group is that, as cash-cows, for our clans, there will be no-one to tell for the sake of unlocking financial intervention. As ‘Awudzwa here’, you therefore have to have a plan for your end of life expenses. Unfortunately, many of us choose to neglect this issue for the fear of accepting that one would die at some point.

I saw a lot of offside comments on an article published recently by entitled Diasporans: Where will your bones be buried? by Jeff Sango of Diaspora Funeral Cash Plan. Comments like ‘hapana nyika isina rinda’ meaning one can be buried anywhere in the world. Accepting that to be true, what people may be missing is that whether you bury abroad or repatriate, you can’t escape end of life expenses.

Besides, a funeral is not just about getting rid of the human remains; it’s more about giving the deceased a dignified send-off. It’s about giving your surviving loved ones a closure, and a chance to celebrate your life. Think of Mohammed Ali’s funeral. Every human being deserves a dignified send-off, irrespective of age, race, creed, colour, sex, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, marital status or socioeconomic status.

So whether you get buried abroad, repatriated to your roots or are cremated, it’s all expenses that you need to confront whilst you can and there is no better way to prepare for such than a funeral cash plan. In any case, there is no better way to deal with any expenses than to have cash-in-hand. Cash knows no border and that makes the cover a worldwide protection without borders. Cash cover enables one to cover all cost aspects of the funeral and of course the flexibility to either repatriate or burial abroad or even cremation if it comes to that.

Forget about the nonsensical belief that if you start to plan about death it crystallises into realty. We need to accept that death is a reality that you cannot escape. Refusal to accept that death as an inevitable certainty only crystallises in planning failure and its denial, period. But the question remains, why do Diasporans fail to plan for their end of life expenses? What are the excuses? In my next blog I will tackle the common excuses and challenge readers to be honest enough to say which one is their excuse.

For now, my simple advice is that if you are not covered just get covered. If you are covered, review and make sure its correct and adequate cover for the intended purpose; end of life expenses.

Artcile taken from Tose Gava is a UK based financial adviser and writes in his personal capacity.