Perets Nimpoza (1959) was born in Burundi. He studied at the University of Bujumbura and has a degree in History. He moved to the Netherlands in 2000 and took a bachelor’s degree in teaching French at the Hogeschool Rotterdam.
Perets taught French and history in Burundi. In Holland, he taught French at a secondary school. Currently he has temporary administrative and translation jobs.
Perets lives in Utrecht with his Burundian wife and five children. He is an attentive observer of Dutch society, which keeps surprising him.
I long for a beautiful end for my life, with enough food and surrounded by my family. This may sound strange to a Dutch person, but in Africa the last days of your life are considered to be very, very important. If you’ve lived your life well but then round it off badly, then your whole life is seen as a failure.
For an African it is very important to finish one’s life with one’s family. When someone gets old, they stay where they live. The family assists with whatever that can no longer be done alone: looking for food, cooking, showering, and so on. Children and grandchildren have the moral duty to help.
That is why family in Burundi is so important. The people of Burundi would be very surprised to hear that elderly Dutch people go to old age homes even if they still have family. Old age homes don’t exist in Burundi. Even when dying, an old African is only happy when surrounded by their family.
I heard on the radio about how the care for the elderly can be very expensive. I understood that a patient in a specialised centre for Alzheimers, costs thousands of euros per month. It’s wonderful that society is willing to spend all this money on old people, and I understand it’s good that people get the healthcare they would not receive otherwise if they stay at home. But I can’t help to feel bad for these old people. It must be terrible to miss the human warmth of one’s family.
To be honest I am a bit worried about my last days. I am not sure if I can ever return to Burundi, because the situation there remains very unstable. But staying in Holland means I might end in an old age home being taken care of by employees.
But perhaps things will change. The Dutch population continues to grow older and older. At one point, there won’t be enough money to build the required number of old age homes and hire the employees to run them. So perhaps children and grandchildren will have to take on larger roles in the care for the elderly. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing – and it makes me worry less.