‘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?