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How can I not belong home, to my father and mother? ‘Migogo’ is what they call me. I cannot even be buried by those who birthed me in their land, ‘out of the fence’, they say. How did they decide that I am undeserving of the ‘wealth’ they made and toiled for in their youth? Is this love I ask.

“Once You Get Out, You Lose Everything” Out of your home, out of marriage, out of your in laws home…nowhere to go but ‘out of the fence’. My spirit does not sit pretty with this situation dears. But today that may not be the point.

You have heard it and seen it time and time again around you. Inheritance. The Big One. When a parent takes too long to give inheritance to their children while they are alive. We have seen 90-year-old fathers and their 60-year-old sons tussling over ‘death’. Eventually death wins.

Come with me through this thinking and let us reason together. 

There is something that must be said about how Kenyans bequeath inheritance to their children. Maybe it starts with the deep thought of “what are we truly passing on”.

In my limited understanding inheritance and wealth are seed to propagate and nurture for abundance and continuity. Inheritance is a factor for intergenerational reproduction of wealth. However, In Africa, it has been positioned as a harvest. We have not had the conversations on why intergenerational reproduction of wealth is critical.

So many Kenyans are not sure what their family, read parents, own or owe and where these are located. We have believed that “if they know, they will eat”. Once death wins, Pandora boxes open into wasteful black holes. The family did not dream this dream together, did not work on it together, do not know its inner corridors so how are they supposed to now take care of it? They may now be older and invested in their own wealth, how do they make mind for this new addition.

If we narrow down to land which is the type of wealth that most of Kenyans would own, then we start to see how we have allowed our culture to affect our primary factor of production as a nation.

We surely cannot claim Agriculture should create employment for more youths when in fact they cannot access this critical factor of Production. If they cannot access it how can they utilize it, Innovate around it, profit from it and plan with it as a source of income? We shoot ourselves in the foot by holding on to this post death inheritance culture.

National Land Commission captures this aptly “As a matter of fact, 80% of our population relies on agriculture, yet only 20% of the land mass comprises arable land. For those in the rural areas, land is not only their sole livelihood but also the subject of great emotional attachment.”

So here is the Let us Think It Differently Pitch. Why don’t we start working and transferring inheritance to our children while we are alive and as they are young, energetic, idealistic, Innovative? While we can still guide them, and they can consult us. We have spent money and made sacrifices to educate and expose them. All this education should not be to just keep their utility as laborers at best.

Let us have intergenerational collaboration to Reproduce Intergenerational Wealth through early and present inheritance. Let us reduce the guess work. We can even do more as parents to teach our children what we have learnt and mistakes we have made concerning wealth.

We need an Inheritance Revolution in Kenya. It is no wonder that a lot of inherited wealth in Kenya is a cause of strife and gets wasted in the process. Accessing judicial and traditional dispute resolution mechanisms and legal ambiguity layered with a myriad cultural, social, and institutional barriers hinder full utility of inheritance for the purpose of Intergenerational reproduction of wealth.

Anyway, we as ‘out of the fence’ people would like to remind you some important facts on women’s participation in land use and ownership:

  1. Even through the estimated ratio of women to men is 1:1, only 5% of land title deeds in Kenya is held by women jointly with men.
  2. Only 1 percent of land titles in Kenya are held by women alone.
  3. 89% of subsistence farming labour force is provided by women
  4. 70% of labour in cash crop labour production is provided by women.
  5. About 32% of households are headed by women.
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