In 1789, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America said “nothing is certain except death and taxes”.
Life insurance is universally viewed as a way for an income provider to protect dependent loved ones from the financial costs of their death, but some Batswana still say that planning for death is akin to asking for it.
To better understand Batswana’s attitudes and what is putting people off planning ahead, Arts & Society caught up with Lifestyle consultant and former human resource officer, Brian Modeme who noted that due to a lack of financial planning for later life, scores of Batswana have experienced financial hardship as a result of someone’s death because they still think planning for your funeral is akin to cursing yourself to die.
“Despite the regular desensitisation to dying commercials which we always watch on television, a failure to appropriately address death has a knock-on effect for bereaved families. Apart from causing mental health problems to the bereaved, it can also cause financial hardship,” he says.
During his time as a human resource officer, Modeme says he always had to deal with employees who did not want to buy funeral insurance mainly because of cultural beliefs.
“Just the mere talk about death or worse still planning death is considered a taboo in some tribes,” claims Modeme, adding that it is no surprise that a sizeable number of people have not saved any money towards a funeral.
In Botswana on average, funeral expenditures cost families between P5 000 and P30 000, but in cases where the deceased was admitted at a hospital, the funeral costs could sky rocket to an average of between P40 000 and P240 000.
Among other things, he indicated that in order to offset funeral expenses, some families have now resorted to quickly burying their dead – some within 24 hours – so that they spend less money on funeral expenses.
Although it might be a while before the death taboo is completely removed, some companies offering funeral insurance say people are beginning to buy it.