Uniquely African wealth threats: The grand funeral competition

In South Africa, and many other African nations, weddings and funerals are regarded as culturally important, often to the extent that they may prove financially crippling. People feel obliged to put on a show.

According to a Mail & Guardian article (28 March 2013), ‘lavish expenses’ are typical among very poor people, and ‘paupers are turned into princes in death’. It is also typical for an entire community to attend funerals and weddings, without being individually invited. The costs of feeding and entertaining such crowds can become astronomical.

Whether you have a traditional African wedding or a Western one, the wealth principle at stake is this: you need to emancipate yourself from the financially ruinous expectations of others. It starts with you. Is your vanity greater than your common sense? Is hosting a lavish funeral (which truly is an absurd form of vanity) or a grandiose wedding truly worth the long-lasting financial damage to your life?

The expectations of others are a direct threat to your wealth potential. It is not a given that you have to cater to these expectations. You need to meet and manage that threat, or accept that becoming rich may never be an option for you.

Ego and expectation are in direct opposition to sensible goal-setting and long-term growth. The funeral that costs a year’s salary, the wedding that costs as much as an education, the girlfriend who expects you to pay money into her account, the boyfriend who makes you feel guilty about not sharing your wealth – these are threats to your goals, and you need to view them that way.


Poverty mindset: I must look important to the community, regardless of the cost of doing so.

Wealth mindset: I must represent myself and not be bankrupted by ego or expectations.


Douglas Kruger is a business author and professional speaker. See him in action, or read his articles, at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Douglas’s books, including ‘Is Your Thinking Keeping You Poor? 50 Ways the Rich Think Differently,’ are available at Exclusive Books, Estoril, CNA, and as ebooks from Amazon.com


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