A few years back, I got the opportunity to work in Cote d’Ivoire. But what made this experience interesting was that, until then, I had never visited a country where English was not the official language. I cannot describe my shock when we got to the airport not only were the people speaking French exclusively, the signage was all in French.
But I was so relieved to see the driver who picked us up, as I had been informed he was bilingual. That evening I could not help but recall the opportunity I had been given in secondary school to learn French but, I decided not to opt our despite various pleas.
Going out for whatever purpose such as sightseeing, to the market, shops or even dining out was an unpleasant experience as I was not comfortable going alone. In school, we were taught that being literate is having the ability to read and write.
I interpreted that to mean being able to read and write English. But not until my experience in Cote d’Ivoire, I had not realised how I was illiterate, (in French). However, I accepted my status and enrolled in a French- for-beginners’ class.
This same literacy meaning applies to finances and wealth creation and going by the financial condition of majority of the population, it is clear that we are not able to read or write the language of wealth creation and financial independence. Just like none of us is born with the ability to read and write our mother tongue or English, one is not born financially literate.
From experience, one observes that the children who speak English at home tend to be more fluent in English than those who only get to practice speaking English at school. Taking this argument further, I know many people who are fluent in a language yet struggle to read or write in that same language. I am fluent in my mother tongue yet I struggle to read or write it.
My point is, there is an increasing awareness around the principles of wealth creation and financial independence. While many of us attempt to speak the language of financial literacy, majority are unable to read or write it which curtails our ability to achieve financial security and independence.
If we are going to successfully become financially literate, we need to make time to study and master the subject of wealth creation and financial security.
The writer is Standard Chartered Bank’s head of financial markets in East Africa.
E-mail: GraceTibihikirra.Makoko@ sc.com.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor