I’ll cut to the chase. Nigeria is culturally diverse and we do our best to uphold our values so much that it affects our lawmaking and God knows that it has saved us from disasters like gay rights. Anyway, I have often observed our culture and certain questions came to mind, one of which is: should what you call a person be the only way of showing respect?
One time as a little girl, I mistakenly called my elder sister by name and I got spanked (I’m sure a lot of us have been there). I had not meant to be rude but it was seen that way by my family. We live in a society where you are expected to call someone who is older than you ‘brother’, ‘sister’, ‘aunty’, ‘uncle’ or whatever for the simple fact that they are older than you but it makes me wonder about what we are teaching our kids.
We should not teach children to respect older people simply because they are older. As an older person earn respect and where you see a younger person not respecting you then check again to see where you may have sold yourself short. When you act as you should you would be surprised that you would not even have to instruct a younger person on not calling you by name; it will come naturally. This is not to say that when I see an older person messing up then I should take it as a pass and not give the honour due to that person. I must fulfill my end of the bargain.
I am simply calling our attention to the fact that respect is a two- way thing. I am not condemning homes that train kids to not call older people by their names. I was brought up that way too and I do not hate my parents for it (if you do not want to do that, it’s fine because there is no rulebook for it. It’s a parenting choice).
But people wake up! Should you really be so myopic as to assume that if I call you by name then I don’t respect you? Abeg, is ‘aunty’ part of your name? Dem born you with am? So please, don’t walk up to me and tell me I have no home training because I did not add the prefix. Respect is not just in a name. Only God knows what I may be thinking of you even when I call you ‘uncle’.
I agree that experience and age are things to be honoured and for that singular fact, younger people should respect older people, no matter how little the age gap is. However brothers and sisters, do not expect to be called ‘sister’ as if it’s your birthright just because of your age when you do not respect yourself. Learn to earn it; that makes it more genuine and last longer. Training children to respect people solely based on age does not teach the child to value people for their person.
Here’s an example and no offense to Yoruba people but I have noticed that they seem to be one of the ethnic groups that esteem respect but here’s the irony. I have witnessed many times where they call a person ‘Egbon’ (Brother) yet they still say stuf like, “Egbon, take time o!” or “Egbon, are you alright?” which we all know is a mild way of asking, “Are you insane?”
So come on people, what’s it going to be?
Written By: Angela