Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Retirement, a Nightmare for Africans

Retirement is that period in life when individuals stop working after attaining a particular age. Retirement age is different in parts of the world. The official retirement age in the US is 66 years, 56 in China, 65 in Australia, 60 in Cameroon and Nigeria. There is usually a flood of mixed feelings when retirement age is approaching.

The approach of retirement is a period dreaded by many Africans. After going through a lot of frustrations and trials to get a job, having to leave the job is more frightening than most people let out. Despite the fact that at retirement, people have so much time at hand to do most of the things they did not do due to busy schedules at work, such as spend time with their children and grandchildren, travel, start a business and many others.


Poor financial situations. May Africans especially civil servants are very frightened at the thought of retirement because most of them are not financially upright. Africans, especially men spend more than they save. So at the time they stop working, they do not have enough money to carry them through the rest of their lives.

Too many responsibilities at old age. Most African men start their families around the age of 45. By the time they go on retirement at the age of 60, their first child is about 15 years old and still in secondary school or just entering the university. Considering the fact that African families are usually big, the thought of going on retirement with all these responsibilities is a big problem.

Some people are terrified of going on retirement because of the strenuous process of compiling documents for retirement benefits. The social insurance services are not very developed in many African countries. As a result many Africans have to spend years and money following up documents needed for their pension to be paid. The process is so complicated that some people die without receiving their pension due to stress.

The fear of becoming unproductive and dependent. The thought of not going out every day and receiving a salary at the end of the month is very frightening, especially to those with no social insurance savings toward pension. Men get very frustrated at the thought of becoming dependent on their children and other family members for their basic needs because this is some kind of blow to their ego, especially those who were not very generous during their working years.

Boredom and loneliness is another reason why Africans fear retirement. While some people in other parts of the world cannot wait to go on retirement so they can finally have enough time to travel and visit friend, family and also discover new places, Africans dread retirement because they may not know what to do with the extra time. This very common with men, who end up living between beer parlours and their homes. It is usually easier for women because they seize the opportunity to visit and spent time with their children and grandchildren. Most retired African women become their grandchildren’s nannies.


Though retirement is dreaded by many, there are few others who are usually happy and impatient to go on retirement, to the point where they apply for early retirement between the age of 50 and 56. This is common with those working in the civil service.

People are happy to go on retirement so they can start their own businesses, one that is more rewarding and satisfying. For necessity sake, many people end up working in offices and jobs they totally hate. This is because Africans usually do not have a wide range of choices when it comes to job opportunities. Such people are usually excited about retirement because they can finally realize some of their dreams.

Many people use retirement to rest, after the many years they spent working, especially those who started early. Some see it as an opportunity to spent time with family and friends. Others retire to their villages, away from the noise and pollution in the cities, to live a quiet and simple life, without always having to worry about the clock.

Retirement is generally supposed to be a happy time for all workers. The realities of the society and the economy of Africa do not permit a happy retirement in most case. African governments should regularize their systems so as to manage retired workers better.

AFRIC Editorial Atricle.

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