Fulgence Hafasha aged 78, believes that from the day we come into this world till the day we die we are aging. He says age is a significant matter where dignity counts.
“The question isn’t so much about how we are aging but more about how we are living. We long to live with dignity and self-respect at any age,” he says.
Hafasha is one of the over 35 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who are over 60 years old. Figures from population agencies add that the number is expected to double by 2030. The growing number of senior citizens is pressuring African governments and international agencies to come up with ideas to provide for this growing segment of the population.
Hafasha says, the most important factors for the aged are the memories, the relationships, the joy and the sorrow.
“We not only develop relationships with our friends, family and community but as we grow, the most important relationship we have is with ourselves,” Hafasha said.
“Aging is a part of the natural process which is in itself, perfection. Society and individuals must begin to change their perception of aging with dignity and appreciate if we want to value our lives at whatever stage,” he said.
Kayonga Ruti, the Principal Media and Public Relations officer at the Social Security Fund of Rwanda (SSFR) says retirement is a significant change in an individual’s lifestyle.
“Any change comes with an element of emotion. Retirement is not only a concept related to employment; rather it is one concept with several factors,” Ruti explains.
Nearly everyone who reaches the retirement age is associated with financial stress—another complicated issue. Given the fragile nature of old age security arrangements in developing countries, many elderly face the risk of living in poverty.
According to Ruti, “senior citizens aged 55-65 years, are entitled to pension by law.”
He adds that retirement in the opinion of experts “is an inevitable stage of ageing where the individual gradually disengages from the main stream of active work/social life and is eventually replaced by a younger person.”