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‘Respect’ – Making & Marring Nigerians Since 1900




Last week, I was on a bus and a secondary school boy got on.  He came in and greeted everyone individually, “Good morning ma, Good morning Sir, Good morning ma…”. When he looked at me and said “good morning ma“, I smiled because I felt how could he be greeting a small girl like me and even adding ‘ma’. So while bringing out my fare, I knew I had to pay for him- no one calls you ‘ma’ and you let them pay their transport fare. As we got to our stop, it was shocking that every body in the vehicle was fighting to pay for the boy’s fare. People were all, ‘I’m paying’, ‘No, I’m paying’. The boy then smiled, looked at everyone and went again all ‘Thank you ma, Thank you Sir, Thank you ma…’. At this point I was laughing.

Respect has different interpretations in various parts of the world and even the different parts of our nation. Generally, respect is an acknowledgement of individuals and the space and position each occupies. In terms of space, every individual has his space so expects to be respected in that regards. In terms of position, people who hold offices or any authority superior to any other, expect the people of lower offices to accord the deserved respect.

In Nigeria, respect defined by space isn’t really considered in our society. The defining terms all relate to position – office, class, birth, uniform, wealth, etc. And some of these terms differ according to our different cultures and traditions.

Ever attended a function/ceremony in Nigeria where the anchor/mc errs in referring to a professor Obi as Dr Obi or even Mr Obi? Or a Prince Obi as Mr Obi? The Obi would feel so disrespected and not move until the error is corrected. He might even give a lecture during his opening speech on how he worked hard to be given that title or to have been born with it.

Or still, try going into an office in Lagos here with a friend. Have the friend kneel to greet the ‘mummy’ at the reception, while you just murmur a good morning and both sit down. Your friend would be attended to about 5 hours before ‘mummy’ acknowledges you are also there for a similar reason.

A few years ago, during my undergraduate studies, I passed by my department corridor absentmindedly, thus not noticing that our elderly departmental secretary was coming towards me with heavy bags in her hands. As soon as she got past me, she began to rant and curse heavily. Talked about how I had no respect, how could I have seen her carry bags and not offered to help with one? It took two weeks of going to beg her every morning to be forgiven. And because it was the right thing to do, according to the culture and practices of the community we exist in, I had no defence. Not even the fact that almost every Geology student of O.A.U (Ife) was bound to be caught walking oblivious of their surrounding, but rather occupied with worries and thoughts about the possibility and timing of graduation.

This and similar incidents during school days made me realise the value of respect in our society and how much a simple ‘good morning Ma/Sir’, followed by a full or half genuflection can open windows and doors faster than words. Of course this applies only in our African society. Don’t go to Yankee and be kneeling down to greet your professors or the secretary at the reception of the white house.

It could rather scare them than endear you to them.

Amarachi Alisiobi is a geologist by profession, a writer by interest and a co-deejay by association.

geologist cum engineer. i want to write a lot, but i hardly seem to get the inspiration. I love sleeping. I wish i could get paid for sleeping. Sleeping and watching GOT! I read all seven Harry Potter books and cried a lot while reading the last. Maybe i'm so emotional!


  1. Sisi

    October 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Nigerians are very keen on respect compared to Brits. Not saying Brits do not have respect for the elderly but the sir/ma ish ain’t really their thing. They call you by your first name old and young.

    [email protected]

    • Seyi

      October 30, 2013 at 11:20 am

      The Brits have more respect in their finger than we do in our entire body. You see, I would rather you call me by my first name than say Aunty Seyi “mo kan respect yin ni o. I for say you dey craze”. Tell me you haven’t heard that countless of times. I have told my friends in 9ja. Make una no vex o. If my children call you by name, it is the culture where they are born. Your kids can call me Seyi too, i don’t give a hoot. I have enough nieces and nephews by blood who call me Aunty.
      Nigerians place too much emphasis on Sir, Ma, Uncle this, Aunty that. Respect only in title only. That is why I like the Brits. If you as an adult is behaving in a manner that does not deserve respect, immediately your phuck up is treated. No holds barred. Respect is earned and not commanded like in our culture. Elders can misbehave or downright bully you because of their age. Who remembers that Atoke write up of when her big Uncle took her car out of town when he told her it was only to pick him up at the airport. Try that in England and that Agbaya will get an earful. What am I saying sef. He won’t dare. Respect in our culture only goes one way. Younger to older. Never and I mean never the other way around. A younger person also deserves respect. That is the part the writer missed in this article. Enough of perpetuating the sterotype that only older people deserve respect. You are carrying heavy bags and so freaking what. I send you message. If she had courteously asked for help I would have obliged and not expected to help her with her bags. She definitely won’t help me with mine even if I am carrying bags twice my weight. Abi when have you ever seen someone come to your aid with your bags at a bus stop, airport or even supermaarket in 9ja. Respect ko, respect ni.
      Respect in our culture is also from poor to rich and never the other way around. Have you seen how people talk to their staff, maids, drivers, waiters, even counter ladies in supermarkets or confectionaries? Have you? Outrightly disrespectful because they have money. You try being disrespectful to a train conductor or ticket operator in England, you will be prosecuted. Try talking to a cleaner or a waiter rudely in England, you will be escorted out of the restaurant. Even tiny children in 9ja talk to their maids and drivers like they are dirt beneath their shoes.
      Think well before you say we have respect. Sorry for my epistle

    • Hmmm

      October 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm


    • AA

      October 30, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      Wo Seyi, THANK YOU!!! This is what I have been saying all along. In naija, elders can get away with bloody murder, and we are still expected to respect them. Why? I must serve you backhand and you must chop my slap because as an elder, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BERRA!!! This over respecting nonsense needs to end quickly!

    • sisi

      October 30, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      #backtothematter this is the problem in Naija, respect is via title only it actually holds no other meaning. If you don’t respect yourself don’t be looking for respect just because….age, wealth, position do not warrant automatic respect. Its flattery more than anything else

    • 2ndtimecommenting in 7yrs

      October 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Please where is the like button?

    • culturebedamned

      October 31, 2013 at 9:34 am

      “Even tiny children in 9ja talk to their maids and drivers like they are dirt beneath their shoes.”

      As in tell me about it! I was in Nigeria a couple of weeks back and I was smiling to myself how sharp my nieces and nephews are, how they speak up for themselves, no one be able to bully them blah blah blah. I am not one for children to be seen and not heard because it was the opposite while I was growing up. That was how one day my sister was telling her driver off for being late or something na hin my five year old niece join mouth to abuse driver! Her mother shut her up there and then telling her, was she talking to her, who called her into the conversation. Poor driver was just laughing. It is this same five year old that yells at the maid and tells the maid to answer ‘ma’ whenever she the five year old calls her.

  2. ogeAdiro

    October 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

    It works everywhere oh. Every normal person likes to be acknowledged.

  3. Babe

    October 30, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Acknowledgement is one thing. Bullying in the name of respect is another…

    Last year my friend and I got a taste of what some Nigerians are like when they demand ‘respect’. We were at a Naija event here in London and were queuing up for the Buffet. As per usual Naija event there were those on the high table etc, who of course felt pple needed to worship the ground they walked on. Well, My friend and I had no idea who was who and were on the queue minding our own business. We then noticed some ladies jumping the queue and getting right in front of us, ignoring everyone who was behind. Well, as per we were all in the joking and friendly spirit, my friend made a joke about pple jumping the queue and we just laughed about it. That was the end o. A couple of minutes later the Madam d madam turned round and gave my friend this nasty look asking her where she was from. My friend was confused and she didn’t respond to her at first ‘cause neither of us were sure if the lady was joking or being serious. The madam then shouted again at her asking her where she was from. The babe barely got a chance to respond this time around, before the madam started shouting at my friend that did she know who she was??? That she was the Governor! The woman kept shouting and complaining nonstop. A spectator came over and started begging the madam and trying to calm her down. Calling her mummy and begging her not to be offended. She was begging her like crazy.

    The ladies then all started complaining amongst themselves that just because we were abroad we had lost all respect! That how dare we complain about them getting in front of us. Do we have no home training at all?? Me I was still in shock trying to figure out what exactly was the reason for all the shouting, all because of food. We were not angry that they jumped the queue. It was a joke. I could not see what the big deal was, except the fact that these women who came from Naija for the event, felt they were just as good as Royalty so they should be treated as such.

    My friend and I just jejely filled out plates with food and went to mingle with more civilised pple. If the woman was waiting for my friend to come and beg her then she shall keep waiting. There was no need whatsoever for all the drama. It was a joke amongst friends and it was over in a matter of seconds.I did not see any wrong in what my friend did. Even if she had done something wrong, yelling at her and shouting that you are the Governor was not the way to go about correcting her.

    Naija sha, this thing we call respect should be named something else in Naija. We take it to another level. Did Atoke not post a similar Article a couple of months ago?
    A place where you dare not have a different opinion from someone older than you or ever disagree with an elder or else you are told off for being disrespectful. Me I tire.

    • Seyi

      October 30, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Preach my dear sister. Thata yeye governor of a person will
      stand in line if it was an oyinbo event o. That is the aprt that
      irks me the most. At the airport abroad she will queue. If she was
      at a conference organised by oyinbos and it was time for lunch, she
      will queue but because it was a 9ja event, she can jump the queue.
      Nonsense. Respect in our culture means jack. How is jumping a queue
      for food a normal thing. Mschew

  4. Mz Socially Awkward...

    October 30, 2013 at 10:56 am

    That young boy will go far with his street smarts. I bet he hasn’t paid his own bus fare in a long while…

    I used to have a friend who told me that her mum commended me very highly for being “very respectful”. This was because I would kneel & greet her whenever I visited, which the woman considered the height of respectfulness. However, she didn’t realize I wasn’t doing the same for everyone’s mums, it was just something I started with her because I knew instinctively that this would work in my favor. Respect will take you far in Naija.

    However, don’t count the oyibos out either. I’m the sort of person who strongly believes in my “Good mornings” etc. regardless of what color of workplace I find myself in and I’m yet to meet a normal human being who doesn’t thaw in the face of constant displays of respect by a colleague. Of course, there are the occasional hard-hearted souls but generally it works like a charm. Always recognize the fine line between being respectful and being a toady, though…

  5. natty

    October 30, 2013 at 10:59 am

    True, everyone likes to be respected. but what I don’t get is having your younger siblings call you aunty or uncle or sister or brother. Like seriously !!! I have a sibling that is 16 years younger than me and he calls me Natty, several busy bodies have tried to correct him that it is rude, but I have told them as long as it is just me and not my friends he calls by my name no problem. I prefer it that way, to calling me aunty , sister. Personally, I feel it would make me look like some grandma and bring unnecessary distance between us because of the age gap.
    I have also had this discussion with a couple of friends with siblings with the same age gap and those of them that are called Aunty or brother have the same problem with the younger siblings not really being able to confide or get too close to them because of the whole age gap ish.
    Now another one that baffles me is married women calling their Husbands Sir, like seriously, when they are having sex, do they go, “Sir pls I want it like this… “

    • Seyi

      October 30, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Lol. My in-laws wanted to try that shit with me. I was expected to call my husband’s younger ones Aunty and Uncle. Even to their children because they were born before I got married into the family. Oh dear. I won’t tell you what I said and did because many of them read BN but let’s jsut say I nipped (backed my hubby) that nonsense in the bud straight away.

    • Nana

      October 30, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Hilarious……… got me laughing so hard……….yes sir, give it to me like this.

    • Alex

      October 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      hahahaha…verryy funny…mi no likey…even when a wife calls the hubby daddy…I m like swit names don finish??? haba

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      October 30, 2013 at 11:58 am

      “Akshually” it could be that prefacing your requests with “Sir” in the bedroom may be useful for spicing things up… I’m jes sayin’….

    • Chic

      October 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      [email protected] sir I like it that way hahaha the whole daddy thing for husband baffles me as well unless you are sending your child to the father please do not go calling your husband daddy. Most women tend to do it after their first child starts talking I noticed that with my friend, hun, sweetie, darling all of a sudden turned to daddy as soon as her first son started talking and calling his daddy. I pulled her aside one day after she called him daddy in public and told her that if she wants her husband to go outside and look for someone who will call him sweetie and darling then she better continue calling him daddy needless to say she stopped that day extreme I know but someone had to say something.

    • AA

      October 30, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Well Natty…i call my husband sir to tease him. Especially when I know he wants to impress his friends. I lay it on thick but we both know who the true boss is ;P

    • Two Shillings

      November 1, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL Lawwwwwd help me. I was totally gone at “Sir please I want it like this”
      But, seriously o, e fit dey happen o sha…

  6. me2

    October 30, 2013 at 11:11 am

    even the ones who do not have respect for others in terms of space, title and age, they all demand for respect o… they openly accuse you. they be like ‘hey,you cant u even greet or see me? you dont even have respect sha!’ its alarming.

    respect is earned, not demanded!!!

  7. Chic

    October 30, 2013 at 11:22 am

    The problem is that some of these older folks do not realise that respect is earned not a right. You respect yourself and others and I respect you simple. I was not brought up in the kneeling culture but I was taught how to show respect for my elders I still find it difficult to call older people especially grandparents age whether African or not by their names I will add a Ma’am, Ms, Mr, or sir when addressing them. My friend’s white mother in law found it so amusing that we kept calling her mum at first she is used to it now and actually likes it. I can’t imagine calling my mother in law by her first name even if she is not African.

  8. Abby

    October 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

    this is hilarious “Don’t go to Yankee and be kneeling down
    to greet your professors or the secretary at the reception of the
    white house.It could rather scare them than endear you to them ”
    this Oynbos people could care less, i work with them and some of
    them cant even respond to a morning greeting let alone greeting
    someone else lol

    • Pd

      October 31, 2013 at 4:59 am

      My cousin bowed to greet his professor in yankee…..n the poor old woman thought he wanted to molest her…….the shock on her face n the way she grabbed her skirt…….she had to go n google nigerian greeting culture before she called and apologised to him…

  9. Hilda

    October 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I understand that in Nigeria, the culture demands respect but some just overdo it.
    I visited Nigeria from London one time and saw some people or family friends fter a long time. Some went to “report” me to my mom and brother that i didnt greet them like i knew them. Am i suppose to hit the ceiling and scream like a mad person just because im seeing them after a long time? It got me really angry

  10. nene

    October 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    from the comments i’ve read so far, i think it’s more of a yoruba thing, since most of the comments are coming from yoruba people. i think yoruba culture is very keen on respect. and i had an experience once where the father a yoruba family friend was soo angry at me for not saying “Sir”, i just answered “yes” but i didn’t even call him by his name, and he was scolding me. i told my mum, i don’t even call my father or any of my uncles “Sir”, so why should this be a problem. i’m igbo and respect is not a big deal, older people even greet and play with me whenever i go to the village, no one scolds you, as long as you just greet and exchange pleasantries, unless he is a red cap chief or igwe (king) of a community.

    • Dee Nina

      November 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      As an Igbo person, I disagree with your comment. In my family, respect is a very big deal. People always commended my parents for raising such respectful children. I don’t think Igbo people value respect less than Yoruba people; I believe both cultures just have different ways of showing respect.

    • baby

      November 12, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      nene every tribe especially amongst africans are very keen
      on respect however i only agree that the yoruba,s like the outward
      show of it more….respect is reciprocal but for me i dont give
      respect with eye service……i have lived in lagos since 1992
      todate as an adult and am sorry to say that the yorubas demand alot
      of it but do it sometimes with eye service……why do i need to
      carry my madam,s handbag cos the other yoruba staff does it? if i
      see her carry an extra bag that is heavy its just polite and human
      to help out but for your handbag, its meant for your hand to
      carry…..if we are within the same age range i don’t need to call
      you aunty or uncle…..why call me aunty yet your actions show
      disrespect it doesn’t make any sense….that aside regardless of
      tribe the young generation now is a lot more disrespectful than we
      were….as a 43 year old married female i give any young lady
      respect regardless of her status and when you are truly taught to
      have respect for people you will do that regardless of age, gender
      etc.while i find the freedom in the white culture positive in some
      aspects we cant throw away all from our African culture……but we
      expect that the elders in our community should learn that respect
      is earned and doesn’t give them a right to behave as they

    • Idak

      November 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm


  11. Honestly ehn!

    October 30, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    To me, the one that just kills it is the inlaw nonsense. I was heavily pregnant at 8 months and my inlaws come visiting for the first time since I got married and the first thing I hear (after demolishing bowls of peppersoup, glasses of chapman, plates of eba and ogbono that I painstakingly made myself without help, just to welcome them) is that it is against yoruba culture to call his children by name. So i must call all my inlaws uncle this or aunty that.

    BTW… he’s my husbands brother, not father. So his kids are my husbands nephews who are pretty small and call me aunty anyway. 2. because we had not really been receiving guests since we got married, the guest bedroom had not been done up so I volunteered to sleep on a mattress in the guest room with my husband so they could have my bed. #NuffSaid

    • Babe

      October 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      That was your first mistake right there. Why should you give up the bed you share with your husband? They should not even be allowed in your bedroom.

      My dear, respect is one thing, worshipping is another. You only get one chance to make a first impression. By giving up your bedroom you have already shown them that they can have their way in your house as long as they push the right buttons.

  12. Vee

    October 30, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Hmmmm, tell me about it.
    When I got engaged to my fiance at age 23, I had no idea what was in store as I had never met his aunts or uncles.
    Once I met his aunt and greeted her ‘good afternoon’, ‘nice to me you’ etc….
    The next day I heard from my fiance that she thought I was rude because I didn’t say good afternoon MA and I didnt kneel down. I have been living in the UK for 13 years and I wasn’t aware of the Yoruba culture like that, especially because I am Ibo.
    6 Months later, travelled to Nigeria to visit my fiances family. It was there his parents grilled me LOL
    ‘kneel down’, ‘after greeting always add ma or sir’.
    It was so strange to me that in order to gain respect you had to do all these things. I thought it was quite ridiculous to be honest.
    Still thinking about it makes me laugh.

  13. Somebody

    October 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Not to be tribalistic but it is this whole respect thing that makes me almost resent the idea of marrying from a certain part of Nig. I know not all families are same but I think they live and breathe ‘respect’ in the sense of kneeling for everyone and calling all and sundry ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’. To be honest, I find it pretentious most times.

    • Amie

      October 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Bella… I have this sneaky feeling this is my “geeky” brother writing…It will be a pleasantttttt surprise if he did visit at least one blog. Is that you D? *going off to share with mammy so we can jubiliate*

  14. ty

    October 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    in uk here, everyone is called by their first name. if u like b 99 years old. meanwhile my yourba friend will send us a text before we get to her house that we should not forget to kneel down to greet her parents…i always find it so amusing. one day one of our friends who had lived abroad for a very long time, just said good afternoon to my yoruba friend’s grandfather and d man did not even look up…later he told my yoruba friend that my friend is very disrespectful and it could not have been him she was greeting…hahahaha!

  15. ty

    October 30, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    i even remember one of my other yoruba friend telling me that d 1st day she met her boyfriend’s mum, she knelt down on one knee and his mum was asking her what happened to her second knee…i laughed and laughed when i heard that story. well, the girl and d boy r still going on strong so dont think she took offence to that

  16. larz

    October 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    My 28 yo sis calls her hubby’s twin brother (six months age diff) brother…The thing tire me

  17. That African Chic

    October 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Wrote a similar article here=======>

  18. Tess

    October 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I remember my first class in the UK. It was taught by a professor and everyone in the class called him by his first name without any title and it took me back to my school days in Ife. Dem no born you well to call your lecturer by name. You will explain what gave you the guts to do so. Nigerians prefer to be held in high esteem rather than value sincerity. Pikin wey don sabi how e no go pay t-fare.

  19. mzhadey

    October 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Like dis respect ish is so killing and m yoruba so i have an idea what y’ll talking about. My parents are brutally seperated if u av an idea what that means but my paternal grandma wld call my mum anytime and you need to see my mum shaking up and down to go and please this woman who was the brain behind my parents seperating and am always like what the fuck are u doing with this people uhn. Funny thing is my stepmum is egun and trust me my grandma cannot try all this ehit they do with my mum cos she would just give them the insult of there life.

  20. Troubled girl

    October 30, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    One thing I know for certain is that in naija people who don’t show “respect” the naija way,want it the most.itz absurd

  21. I formerly known as Miss Anonymous

    October 30, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    How about at work? In my office there is someone called “big mummy” and another called “aunty”. There’s also “Mazi” and “Igwe” and these aren’t nicknames. People call them so because they feel they are too old to be called by name.

  22. stephanie

    October 31, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Looking at the ‘respect ‘ thing I feel it’s what makes us Nigerians, we are not westerners. i beg to disagree even in igbo culture you are also expected to add the sir and ma when greeting elders. We are living in a society where everyone wants to be respected. If you school in this part of the world without adding sir / Ma, anty, mummy et al you may encounter some challenges. D thing na Wa! But that’s who we are ,call it eye service,hypocriscms, over sabi or any other name. NA so we see am, either u beat them or join them!

  23. Kostas

    October 31, 2013 at 2:42 am

    I’ve found that the Nigerians who clamour for all the bells and whistles of our “Naija Respect” are often the least deserving of said respect.

    They are abusive, rude, have egos the size of Olumo rock, and generally ill mannered people. But yet they want you to “Yes Sir/Ma” and shower them with respect. Tschew.

    I give everyone, old or young, a modicum of respect. It costs me nothing and is the right thing to do. But if you show your ass, then it’s not me you should come and your respect with, culture be damned. Liars, thieves, corrupters and such are not deserving of my respect. I don’t care if you are Mr-The-Mr-of-Kings or whatever.

    We don’t talk about this much but this idea of giving respect on no basis other than age, is what enables the degradation of our country. If I can’t call you out (not in a rude way oh – just calmly stating the facts), when you are doing something wrong because of “respect” how is positive change made.

    The biggest liars and thieves in our country, hide behind respect (aka Do you know who I am). Above-average respect should ALWAYS be earned and not given away for nothing like we do in Nigeria.

  24. Ernie

    October 31, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Respecting elders is part of our culture in Nigeria. It is our way of life. Comparing ourselves to d brits is erroneous…they have their culture we have ours.

    • culturebedamned

      October 31, 2013 at 9:21 am

      And who says the Brits don’t have respect? Proper Brits have good culture and respect irrespective of whether they call their elders by name or not. It is the chavs and every tom, dick and harry who managed to find themselves in Britain that have no culture or respect.

      People please stop pulling out the culture card every time someone states the (negative) obvious about Nigeria. About time we did away with ‘cultures’ that represses us in Nigeria. Moreover culture is dynamic and not static. Perhaps you should examine the spirit in which the culture was was developed and not the letter of the culture if you must play the culture card

    • baby

      November 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      its amazing you people read and yet do not
      understand……in all the write ups here have you read where
      anyone said we should not respect others? and who told you oyibos
      do not respect people…..have you lived in Britain? when we make
      comments understand the crux of the matter before

    • visitor

      February 16, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      And where has this respect taken us? all we constantly hear is, respect your elders,respect your elders, thesame people who bully and abusive the young just because they’re older makes it okay for them to get away with anything.

  25. Bekah

    October 31, 2013 at 9:22 am

    i rem while doing my youth service in oyo, i ran in to the registrar of the school i was posted to, i greeted the man and d next thing that came out of his mouth was ” so u dont have respect, how dare you stand and greet me” d shock on my face that day ehn, i just told him ” sir, kneeling is not my culture, moreover i greeted you from my heart which is the most important” he was just murmuring and saying how igbo’s dont have respect. small thing, i would have insulted him…mcheew

  26. Bekah

    October 31, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Later sha, i took up a cultural intelligence course, and that incident came to my mind.
    When in Rome, behave like a Roman. since then, i greet peeps according to there respective culture, and its really working for me.

  27. IfeLove

    October 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    While I’m not averse to giving respect where it is due, I have gotten into this respect ish with people o and it could be annoying. Especially when people you don’t know from anywhere now want you to start calling them aunty and start saying yes,ma because they have bigger body shapes than you though you are in the same age group. I’ve had to give it back to them or just act like they don’t exist because life’s too short to let anyone steal my peace of mind with his/her complex issues…I have friend who are older than i am with 2, 3, 10, 15 and even 20 years and we know our boundaries..We call ourselves names and we relate well even with the occasional spats between friends.

  28. dee.K

    October 31, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Yeah, I think it is very common to yorubas. You will practically roll on the floor, kiss the whoever’s feet before your greeting is acknowledged. It is very annoying. The other day, one mumu at work told me to address her as “miss So so so”. I was speechless. In a corporate environment o. Little wonder some people don’t move forward. Anybody that is looking for aunty-ism can sit her fat butt at home or better still open a shop in front of her house. Mscheew.

  29. cece

    October 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Nigerians know nothing about respect. They have a distorted version that has somewhat turned into foolishness. Where is the respect when you dont treat another human being like one? Where is the respect when you are forced to respect ones that didnt earn it but automatic? Where is the respect when you are treated like rubbish based on how much money or degrees one has? Where is the respect when it borderline becomes abuse? Where is the respect when you cant correct a reckless behavior because you cant correct someone older than you? Where is the respect when people are told to suppress their feelings/emotion because you cant talk back, express yourself because its labeled as disrespect.etc Bunnch of BS. Respect is when everyone is treated equally until proven otherwise. Even then, every human being still deserves it. The backwardness among nigerians is exactly the cause of stagnant and failure of the government. If an intelligent young Nigerian calls out all these useless elders ruining the country, ne/she will be scolded, asked to shut up bcos what does a brilliant young person know since the useless older person has been here before, even though he lacks common sense. Bunch of nonsense.

  30. Me Full Ground

    October 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    @MSA, I’ve always said it that you are a very sensible lady. Pls I want to meet you. On the subject however, in every society, there are cultural values and one of them is respect and honour for individuals as human beings, respect for the aged or seniors, respect for position or authority, respect for genuine achievers. All these take different forms in terms of the manner respect or honour is given to every category. The Chinese that kowtow or bow for their elders are they also stupid? Let’s try and judge issues in their context, encourage the good aspects and discourage the bad or excessive aspects. This idea of imbibing western values and use them to judge our Naija values unto outright condemnation is wrong that are wrong. Personally, I don’t expect people bow to me or perform those “eye service rituals” but at least a demonstration of respect in the manner you greet or acknowledge any individual matters. It also shows your kind of person. Would you go to your friend’s house and see his/her dad or mum and either ignore them or casually throw a greeting from a distance as if they are your mates. What is wrong in giving respect to elders through proper greetings? It is one of the first step towards developing a humble character. If we respect everyone we come across according their category, you are sowing a seed of respect which in turn generate respect and harmony. Of course, it is expected that elders or everyone for that matter must conduct themselves properly to earn respect. And where anyone consistently fail to properly conduct himself as expected, the “coat of respect” is taken off their back. Even maids, drivers etc are to be treated with respect (before they put otapiapia in your children’s food… Lol). There is nothing in our culture that says a younger person cannot correct an elder. This can also be done with respect. At the age of 15, I had reason to call my parents privately to their bedroom and spoke to them about their incessant quarrels on some issues. I reminded them of their age, their position in the church and what examples they were setting for us their children. By the grace of God they that put paid to those embarrassing moments. So, we can respectfully call our elders and speak to them when they going out line but not in a way to expose them to ridicule.

  31. Me Full Ground

    October 31, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Pls pardon the typos and errors.

  32. honeymix

    October 31, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    BN, pls a like button.

  33. Blamaco11

    November 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I think you are mistaking civility/etiquette with “respect”. while there may be some over the top moments in our society, I personally prefer the Nigerian ” greeting and acknowledgment” mode, There is nothing respectful or cool when you greet somebody and they dont even respond to you as they do in England.

  34. Haddy

    November 1, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    The one at the workplace is the weirdest of them all. In my
    former place of work, run by white people, we called everyone by
    their first names. It was encouraged. I’d call my manager by his
    name, even the MD. No one had any complex issues or feeling too
    important. Fast forward to my current company… Hian! Aunty this,
    aunty that. Madam said, madam did… yes ma, ok ma. Manager this,
    supervisor that. Ha! It took me a while to adjust and I almost got
    into trouble a few times for calling “madam” by her first name.
    Needless to say, I had to adjust fast ot face an uncomfortable
    working environment. It just doesn’t make much sense that we crave
    face-value respect to the real thing. My younger ones call me by my
    name. It’s no big deal to me, but my mum almost chokes anytime she
    hears them. I truly don’t get it.

  35. adeyemo kunle

    November 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Wow now I know am nt crazy cause dis country is fucked up and really relationships are most times choked and unfruitfull because we have people who place too much premium on what is nt necessary

  36. Mercy

    November 2, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I enjoyed reading the various perspectives on respect in
    our culture. I think the kneeling down is more prevalent in
    yorubaland. I am Yoruba by birth but I think nigeria is where it is
    today because of the geriatric definition of respect. As someone
    put it, respect should not just flow from younger to older but vice
    versa. Greeting me with am is not respect, in fact my assistant at
    work does not say hi in the morning but she knows who is the boss.
    Respect is not outward. Our cultural way of defining respect is why
    the “elected ” reps and governors etc

  37. Mercy

    November 2, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Sorry I did not complete my thought about elected folks are
    hand picked by elders and they have no clue as to how to

  38. walpops

    November 2, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Beautifully written

  39. BA

    November 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Just because it is white, doesn’t mean it’s right. Now, we
    love our ‘sir’ and ‘ma’ and kneeling etc. it is our culture. Other
    people around the world have theirs- good thing the professor
    googled how Nigerians greet to understand that her student’s style
    of greeting. This is not to say people do not abuse it sometimes
    but it is common sense to acknowledge that we like to do things a
    certain way and we should be comfortable with that – as we are now
    growing to be comfortable with our accents, hair and dressing. This
    does not mean however, that we can’t move on from harmful customs.
    Little modifications and corrections here and there but poking fun
    at our customs and declaring them not good enough is taking us a
    hundred years back into colonisation.

  40. Doyin

    November 6, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    I remember when i relocated to Canada, the first culture shock i had was the way oyinbos greet their professors..As a matter of fact, you can walk pass your prof and just say”Hi Ken or Hi Mark” and they will even greet you back with a smile…Omo! you cant try that in 9ja..In fact if you see your lecturers carrying loads of books and he/ she is few distance away from you, they expect that you run and come help them out….Recently, i was at Nigeria High Commission of Nigeria in Ottawa to renew my international passport and i was shocked when one of the workers came to address us who were sitting when she said ” Good morning everybody, my name is Aunty Helen”- what does that suggest that? No one should dare call her “Helen” as long as you are still within the premises of the Commission..

  41. baby

    November 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    i have IT students come to the office and they call a boss
    mummy?? in an official capacity nobody calls mummy, you are
    addressed as mr , mrs or miss…..I make it a point to correct them
    even if the persons involved do not…..if you are in a personal
    conversation fine but if you are reporting to another colleague
    there is nothing like “mummy said”……lol…..the whole matter
    tire me abeg

    • Idak

      November 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm

      The thing no tire you reach me. It is the sole reason why i
      do not attend any church where they do Mummy and daddy. I
      understand that it is part of some culture but I respectfully
      refuse to subscribe to that culture.

  42. millionairess

    November 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    @honestly ehh biko U got it all wrong. Never give up ur bedroom for anybody. U never can tell what the other party has in mind

  43. Olakunle Bolomope

    September 23, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I think it is marring Nigeriaans far more than it is making Nigerians, in yorubaland their is an adage that says “Agbalagba o kin paro”, meaning an elderly person doesn’t lie! Really?! Our culture makes it very difficult to challenge and correct an elderly person.***SAD****

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