Our prepaid world

Photo: Prepaid breathe
Photo: Prepaid breathe

Do we ever stop to think that we are living in a prepaid world? That just about everything in our daily lives has been “prepaid?”

(The following story was written with the tongue firmly in cheek. The left one.)

Nowadays, most people are familiar with, or use, prepaid electricity, prepaid rental of property, airtime for their cellphones, data, pay-per-view movies on television, and so forth. And so fifth.

Some may think that the “prepaid” arrangement is a newcomer to society. It’s not.

Here, in Cape Town, I’ve come to accept the precautions that are being taken to ward off the devastating effects of the current water restrictions. People are even talking about the possibility of a prepaid water supply.

Prepaid systems have been around for as long as Man has been on this troubled old world of ours. Earliest man probably dragged a (prepaid), freshly caught woman, by her hair to his cave – in the hope that she would cook, clean, and keep him warm at night.

Nowadays, men buy expensive rings and presents (prepaid), to entice a potential spouse into their lives…


When you buy a postage stamp to stick on that letter you intend to send to someone, does that not qualify as “prepaid” post?

When you purchase your monthly groceries, and pay at the till, are you not “prepaying” for the food you intend to eat in the near future

When filling your car with petrol, are you not in fact, buying the “prepaid” miles you intend to travel?

At a wild party, when you over-imbibe in copious amounts of the nectar of the gods (or the devil – depending on your conscientious perspective), are you not, in effect, buying a “prepaid” hangover for the following day?

I think you get the point…

Now, let us look at some of the “prepaid” things to which one rarely gives a second thought:

When we were but tiny little babes in arms, our mothers bought “prepaid” nappies for the inevitable soiling that babies are famous for. (Yes, I am, of course, referring to the dreaded crappy-in-the-nappy thing!)

Most people take out “prepaid” funeral cover, or have a “prepaid” funeral policy for the inevitable day when, in their dotage, they will finally do the crappy-in-the-nappy thing one last time.

Dowries have a long and colourful history in Europe and South Asia. A dowry is the “prepaid” transfer of parental property, gifts or money, at the marriage of their daughter to the groom or his family.

Among southern African peoples, a bride price or bride wealth – traditionally paid with cattle – is an ancient custom.

Known as Lobola, Mahadi, Magadi, Lovola, Roora, in the various southern African languages, it is property in cash or kind, which a prospective husband, or head of his family, undertakes to give to the prospective wife’s family in consideration of a customary marriage. In other words: another “prepaid” arrangement.

It has been claimed that even high-profile figures, such as Nelson Mandela, practiced the custom by giving a (prepaid) lobolo of 60 cows for his wife, Graça Machel. (That’s a lot of milk and steak to pay for only ONE woman! Just a thought…)

Be that as it may, prepaid is here to stay – it has become the heart and soul of our civilisation.

We vote (prepaid), for the political party we wish to govern our country.

We pay school and varsity fees (prepaid), to have our children obtain an education.

We book airline flights, and hotel accommodation (prepaid), to go on trips overseas.

We have prepaid car licenses, prepaid wives, prepaid children, and we live prepaid lives.

Do we try to live honest and virtuous lives – in the hope that one day we will go to a prepaid Heaven?

Who knows…?

Fubar Bundy, Cape Town, South Africa, 07/02/2018

  • Fubar Bundy is a renowned writer, of Indian origin, who travels the world and comments on the state of the various nations in general; and the level of development of selected countries in particular.