ISSUES

THE RESPECT CULTURE OF THE YORUBAS – A CORE VALUE OR A MUNDANE PRACTICE?

Àlàyé, submit your belongings, cooperate with us or you die
‘How dare you saunter into my house and not greet first?
‘Sorry Ẹ̀gbọ́n, Ẹkaalẹ́ sah. Ehn we came to rob you ni ẹ sáà mọ bó ṣé ńlọ. ẹnu gbẹ
‘No problem ẹ̀yin ọmọ ìyá mi. At least you guys are respectful. Go on take all you need. ‘

I reckon that’s how a Yoruba man will hold a conversation when armed robbers have the effrontery to enter his house without greeting. What is the threat of getting pumped with bullets when greeting is out of the picture? How dare you not greet a Yoruba person? Did they not teach you well? My friend get out!

A beautiful day to you fellow Nigerians, I am here to give my opinion and observation on the Yoruba tribe obsession with respect most especially greeting. There is even a saying to butress this, whoever doesn’t greet those he met at home will be denied of a ‘welcome home’ response. Greeting is an integral part of being a Yoruba. Your worth and the level of training your parents instilled in you as a child right till you grown into an adult is judged by how you greet and respect your elders in public. It is a nice thing to be respectful to one’s elders and fellow humans, acknowledging people by greeting them or nodding is also a basic part of human etiquette. However my people tend to overdo it.

You get a pass in every misdemeanor provided you are known to be a respectful human who greets people. Spit into anybody’s face and my people will defend with their might. Use bottle to knack somebody on the head and they will say you were pushed and frustrated because naturally you are good person.

‘How is someone who breaks bottle on someone’s head good?’ You ask

‘He greets and is respectful to the elders, Ọmọlúàbí ni.’ They respond without missing a breath.

Is it not our obsession with respect that made us do oversabi and borrow ‘buoda’ and ‘anti’ from someone else’s language and jam it to our own? Buoda Taofiki, Anti Bose. What exactly is that thing with respect gangan?

An ordinary ‘Ẹkáàrọ̀ ma’ can earn you an automatic employment at CBN if the person is influential. In the same vein you may end up missing an important appointment or denied a signature simply because the person in charge or the one who would connect you to the boss is displeased because you didn’t greet or dissatisfied with how you greet.

I hate the fact we are so obsessed with greeting that failure for someone to do it is regarded as a sacrilege. Nobody makes an excuse for you in Yorubaland if you don’t greet. They unanimously come together to declare you as a rude, spoilt, ill-mannered bastard child of an unknown person. I have seen fellow Yorubas throw tantrum over the subject of greeting or not greeting. When I was a corp member I only always exchange words and greetings with those I was close with in the lodge. This behaviour earned me all sorts of names and enmity mostly from fellow Yorubas. I was also condemned for not joining in idle talks and gists because to them all of that shows I am pompous and full of myself. In the same lodge one of my friends who is a stranger was stopped in his tracks and questioned as to why he wouldn’t greet them. Say wetin happen? You be chief daddy? These people also had the guts to find my number and send me a message on WhatsApp on how to train my visitors to greet them anytime they visit. I told that dude to tell that to the birds. He was so lucky he didn’t approach me in person I’d have washed him.

This forced practice of respect and who deserves it is why older folks get away with stupidity because they know they can’t get called out for it due to respect. This is why an older person will talk down on you, be toxic to your existence yet still feel entitled to your greetings.

Ọmọlúàbí concept lowkey silence the voice of the youths. Cowering to the elders is preferred to speaking up or challenging set social structures.

‘Kemi, anti Funke said you didn’t greet her. Why?’
‘She tried to pimp me out to one old man yesterday so I…’
‘How dare you! Oya kneel down there and greet her now now now!’

You dare not stand your ground that you won’t greet or exchange words with those people who zap your energy or give you headache with their negativity. Everybody will join mouth together to insult you, you may even get a slap here and another there irregardless of your age. This preoccupation with who should greet whom first and who shouldn’t have forced the younger people to interact with adults who have proven numerous times that even though they are older they are still limited when it comes to thinking sensibly.

This, our culture of respect, doesn’t in anyway reduce the air we breathe if someone fails to greet us whether intentionally or in error. We should stop ‘tighting’ chest and foaming at the mouth when we don’t get called ‘aunty or boda’ either. Kí là ń báá ká gan-an?

Kanzah

I am not cute or built to suit a fashion model size, but when i start to tell them, they think am telling lies, i say, it is in the reach of my arms, the span of my hips. I am a woman phenomenally, phenomenal woman,that's me - Maya Angelou.

8 Comments

  • Avatar

    Herbeebahh

    This Anti and Bruoda thingy is one of the most annoying thing ever!!!!!
    Especially as my extended family are traditional Yoruba people that carry respect on their head. I’ll never forget when someone was foaming in the mouth cos a cousin was calling her daughter by name. When I asked what the issue is “A ju L lo now”. And if you are wondering how many years this is, it’s just 9 months.

    I’m glad I don’t have any older cousins I’m mandated to call Aunty or Brother, cos that’s where I would have scattered everything. And I look forward to abolishing it real soon. Very very soon.

    The way adults also get away with everything just because, age is another annoying thing. Respect should be earned and because you are older doesn’t mean you should be toxic

  • Avatar

    Oreoluwa

    My own problem is not necessarily with the greetings, but their insisting I prostrate almost all the time. Due to my height, I have been labelled a proud person because I do not prostrate to greet , but rather I greet while on my feet, the question is just how many times will I prostrate when I get to church in the morning and I have to greet ten different elderly men, or do I just call them together and give them the greeting at once. Either way I just know this whole greeting thing is one aspect of the yoruba culture, we do not joke with.
    Thank you Miss Writer, it was quite insightful.

  • Kanzah

    Kanzah

    Yeah. A ju lo means whether it is a day, a week, a month or a year. Whoever is older than you is your senior and automatically deserves to be accorded the absolute respect.

    I guess they will keep getting away with it until…

    Thanks for stopping by Herbeebahh

  • Kanzah

    Kanzah

    Omg…😂😂😂 this made me laugh. If you call them together and give them the greeting as a group they will still feel offended. Lmaoo

    Thanks for stopping by Oreoluwa.

  • Avatar

    Aunty No Nonsense

    Well. I think the Yoruba cutlure of upholding respect is laudable. That is our culture and it puts everyone in their plave in the society. Fine some may overdo but it is not everyone. There are instances where people’s fortune turn for the best because they greet. A Yoruba perosn thay doesn’t greet his elder is mannerless…even if the person offend you you have to show you are well trained by greeting them first. We are losing our culture because of western ideas. We should preserve the ones we can by all means necessary

  • Avatar

    Temitope

    My boss at work doesn’t come regularly but whenever he does, all the staffs are meant to come out of their cubicles to greet him one after the other. Fam, the guys bow and the girls bend! This man is in his early forties ooo! One lady came and during her training days, she refused to do this, the boss told her he wouldn’t be needing her services any more because he doesn’t employ rude people in his establishment!

  • Kanzah

    Kanzah

    Omg..even at work? That reminds me of what Ifemelu got sacked for at his work place in Americanah – not calling his boss ‘mummy’. In other words he wasn’t showing enough deference..

    That respect thing has made a lot of people excuse mediocre behaviour simply because they are…you guessed right, respectful.

    Thanks for stopping by Temitope.

  • Kanzah

    Kanzah

    Yes I agree it is good to be respectful but overdoing it is the bone of contention here. It has made a lot of older folks get away with numerous vices.

    Thanks for stopping by Aunty No Nonsense.

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