I was having a conversation with my friend, and at some point, he said, “If I die now, you can take my clothes.” I started to think about wills and how young men like him feel about writing them.
I spoke to seven young Nigerian men, and the first thing they all mentioned is that right now, they’ve not acquired anything, so there’s nothing to put in any will yet. Apart from that, this is what else they had to say.
“Men are more pressured to have wills and leave stuff behind compared to women”
— Kamsi*, 31
I think coming up with a will is going to be more pressure than stress. Men are more pressured to have wills and leave things behind compared to women. In our geographical context, it’s the man’s “duty”. I’ve never really seen a case where a woman leaves a will when she’s still happily married to her husband. I usually only see it when she’s a widow or a divorcee. All the work you put in in your career, as a man, is hardly ever for yourself — more for your dependents.
“I don’t want any useless long-distance family members coming to claim what isn’t theirs.”
— Danjuma*, 24
I’m in total support of writing wills. Mostly because when I die, I don’t want any useless long-distance family members coming to claim what isn’t theirs in the name of “tradition.” When my dad died, I heard stories about a lot of this rubbish, and I’m not going to stress my family with that.
“I already have my lawyers. Once I start acquiring assets, I’ll begin writing my will”
— Tobi*, 26
Writing a will is something that crosses my mind quite often. In fact, I already have my lawyers. Once I start acquiring assets, the writing begins. I learnt the importance of having a will from my friend’s dad. He once told me the story of his grandfather, who was a wealthy man, but none of the wealth got to his family. His family lost everything they had when he died because there was no will. So his dad had to start from scratch. Their family went from receiving healthcare abroad to not being able to afford shoes for school. I’d never want to put my kids through that kind of thing.
“The reason why I work so hard is because I want to leave enough for my family behind when I die”
— Ayo*, 22.
I’ve never really thought wills until now. I’d say they seem cool on paper and in movies. They mostly do what they’re supposed to, right? Distribute your assets and wealth to whomever you love — sounds fun. But then it can also be really stressful. Personally, I’m trying to die empty, and that’s why I’d like to have a will. Also, I want things to be clear to everyone so that my family doesn’t fight.
I’ve thought about my life for the long term though. And the reason why I work so hard is because I want to leave enough for my family behind when I die. I want to build generational wealth so my family won’t have to work.
Sometimes, I think about my great-great-grandfather and I’m like, “Why didn’t that man just work hard, for fuck’s sake?” I don’t want anyone thinking that about me.
“The drive to make money for me is not to leave behind, it’s to do what I can while I’m here”
— James*, 34
I’ll definitely have a will in the future. I think it’s important to have one. I’m an Igbo man; if I don’t have a will, my external family may come and try to claim things. Asides that, as a man, you’re more pressured to have one, because you’re the “breadwinner” of the family. As far as structure, men are the ones expected to have a will. The only time you hear conversations about women having wills is when it’s a single mum, a celebrity, or an extremely wealthy woman.
The drive to make money for me is not to leave behind, it’s to do what I can while I’m here. If you’re leaving assets behind, it’s for your immediate family — your wife and children. But I want to help everyone around me while I’m alive.
“Writing a will makes me think of death”
I know people say they don’t fear death, but I do, and writing a will makes me think of death. If God grants me good health, I’ll write one in my dying days, and everything’ll probably go to my wife and kids. But right now, I don’t like to think about it.
“It’s something you just have to do so the people you leave behind can have a soft landing.”
— Tunji*, 27
I’ve thought about having to write a will sometime in the future. To be honest, I really don’t know what to expect. I’m not sure how that’s going to go, and I’m not exactly completely sure how I feel about it. But I guess it’s something you just have to do so the people you leave behind will have a soft landing. I think it’s a necessary thing — a show of love to your loved ones. You’re telling them, “I’m still with you, and this is how I’m going to support you.”