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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Future Secured?

It measures 1 inch in thickness, 9.2 and 5.9 centimeters in breadth and length respectively, is the second card that has my central-bank-like signature (but do I say) and my unique left thumbprint, bears a biro-pen corrected typo on my last name and was issued at a certain 28 storied building located 1°17'24"S   36°48'44"E of Nairobi. This building stands 337 feet above the ground making it Kenya’s third and Africa’s 80th tallest building.
It is the NSSF building. And of the card?

In the US and the United Kingdom they call the aforementioned card the Social Security Card, while in Kenya, we call it NSSF (National Social Security Fund) card, a document that the law requires employed citizens to have, failure to which can lead to one being apprehended.

And with this card, the public relations department at this government-driven office deemed fit to say “We Secure Your Future”.

Since my statements were included my company’s record books about a year ago, I have been paying my taxes, something I feel proud of as much as it means some money has to be deducted from my meager - read meaty if you know my boss - salary.

Having an NSSF number (mine has three odd numbers, three nines and three even numbers) means that every close of month when one gets rewarded for some sweat poured in the line of duty, you contribute Sh. 200 ($3) and the employer contributes the same amount on your behalf. The latter contribution is, as my boss would say; spot on, but the former… yawn!

This amount, as I have been made to fathom forms part of one’s contribution to the national grid, and the total amount accrued is given back to the contributor after retirement as old-age benefits.

The thought of getting old and having to make tedious odyssey to the NSSF building in the future makes me get worried. I would want to reap the benefits of my hard work for the nation in the future, but not as an antique for NSSF and the then civil servants. Besides, I have seen so many men and women wearing sagging muscles in their faces lodge complaints after complaints that the old-age monies they had accrued during the them years are not being processed fast enough to enable them buy soap to wash their worn muscles.

This delaying aspect to pay back the amount nagged my mind as I made the trip, torn in thoughts of just letting the old-age benefits be, and getting the number that would prevent the authorities from coming to arrest me for not making a contribution that will only help me and not the most subsequent of their kins!

The officer manning the gate directed me to NSSF’s Block C where the other officer manning it showed me a room where the card was being processed. As usual, I took my seat next to this lady (it happens more often than not that the specie in front is always a she) with my eyes doing the usual curious rounds in the vast office for reasons that I wont make you understand in this space.

Two minutes inside the vast office and I get my services from this lady who does the typo on my card but fixes it at my asking. She then apparently directs me to a Mr. HB, one of the civil servants responsible for taking the fingerprints. This time round, the specie in front is a man, who from the whining and groaning of HB, I can notice that he’s giving him some hard time. However, HB manages to hold himself together and once he finishes with the guy who looks like a walking rainbow with his brown shoes, yellow top, dark trouser and red cap.

“Now it’s my turn to secure my future,” I murmur to myself as the rainbow guy navigates his way to a closet to get rid of the excessive black marks in his hand.

But Mr. HB is not ready to serve me yet as he calls upon the lady who came after me, hence, by the laws of queuing, should be served after me. I do nothing more than groan and resign to the tyrannical “ladies first” dogma. After all, my life dictates that a sweet one should always be in front. Two minutes after giving a better service to the lady than he did for the guy who can confuse a chameleon and HB (Hinger Brinter?) takes the pleasure of being in charge of my thumbs at least till the process is done.

Did I mention that am one of the most cooperative guys around this part of the world? At least I didn’t have to mention it to HB going by the look of satisfaction he was wearing on his aging face.

Cue in some rounds of stamping my finger on some papers, taking some routine glances around the room, being told where to place my signature and eureka! I have the card that has my future insured, secured and safe, of course provided that the servants entering the contribution records do not cause a mysterious inferno that ends up gutting down everything from computer chips to its memories and the hard copies that I so proudly filled.

And from that moment on, I can say with a swollen sense of pride that the NSSF is indebted to me. If I stay in employment till retirement, I would have accrued nearly $2500 in savings. Now with this amount, I would travel to Masai Mara Game Reserve and start spending it as I think what actually to do with it.

Making my way back to the office where the boss needed me for the usual reprimands, I saw this medium heighted crisp looking lady bouncing unperturbedly with these high-heeled shoes and who goes down on my record as one with the biggest, but disturbingly nicest, uhm … ninis … boobs (reads books if you know my pastor) I have ever discerned in the highly explorable streets of Nairobi.

And at this point is where viewer discretion is advised for those who don’t have their future secured.

Secure your future. It comes with gratification, privilege, sense of responsibility, and more so, benefits for those who grow old.

And that’s thesteifmastertake!!