Monday, January 10, 2011

Do you respect me for the money or the values?

I pen this down after so much inner questions and tumultuous arguments with a couple of friends.
I said to a friend I have a problem with some certain elderly men and women in my church and around my neighbourhood where I live constantly trying to show respect (I mean constantly till I started to think it as normal and right) to me by using ‘ma’ in almost every sentence (I’m not exaggerating ). I was a little uncomfortable  about this and spoke to a friend about it. My friend told me that it was more of a ‘yoruba” culture thingy and went further to say that the particular tribe of the geographical area where I live do that to show respect. I then thought to myself, what exactly are they respecting this much?(in my usual questioning ‘default’ mode). Could it be the car, dressing, or nice apartment? To say the least. Then I considered that maybe it was the values but I reckoned it was hard for anyone to know the values that I hold on our first or second or even third meeting. Then I begin to observe that it was more common than I had imagined. At first I wanted to correct a woman (who was closer to me) but after seeking the advice of a friend, I relaxed and went with the flow (this friend said don’t do it). My friend said it was their culture. I remember growing up in Ilorin (kwara state) and I don’t think I had seen any of this so –called ‘culture’’. People who were younger generally used ma or sir for the elderly and not the other way round. At least this is what I observed.
I began questioning and probing, someone said to me, wouldn’t you rather be respected like that but I said I wasn’t comfortable with that kind of respect. Because I seemingly have more money than you does not make me more respectable I replied. The fellow said “olorun a je ki won ma se yes ma/sir si mi titi lai which translates ‘May God cause them to continually respect me using yes ma/sir forever). I just kept quiet but I still felt some basic things were wrong. I imagined being a candidate for the coming elections. All I needed to do was put up the campaign posters and give these people some gifts like Ankara or cheap lace which my opponent might not be able to afford. I am 100% certain I’ll garner most of (if not all) the votes. Does it mean I will fulfill my promises to the people? Does it automatically translate to my accountability in office? No. One, for me to lure them with material thing on the one hand has shown that I lack principles and might have felt I do not have the qualification required and want to just show off like many of our politicians today. On the other hand, for those people to collect t he gift and still give me their votes only shows how small minded and materialistic they are. Questions should be asked (honestly). What do you do to earn the money? What have you done before now? Who were your parents? (Honestly I will find it difficult to vote for an Abacha or Babangida offspring). What values do you hold as right? Do you imbibe them as well? What capacities have shown that you do? By the time these questions have been honestly asked and answered, the true worth of the individual will show. Only then should they decide to give (or not) me their votes. I will attribute the behavior of this set of people to poverty and ignorance. But I will say Ignorance (and little mindedness) takes the major part. What they obviously are not seeing (or try not to see) is that if the conditions were right, they could also earn for themselves (if not them, their children) enough to live comfortably without having to lick someone’s butt. More so, if peradventure they were unsuccessful, they would have helped to provide that enabling environment for their own next generation (there’s a saying that 7 generations must not know poverty). I begin to think then that does being poor mean you can not hold right values? Does it mean you can not ask questions? Or is it more of selfishness and greed to gain something for the now without considering tomorrow? I’m still doing my research but I tell you there is need for some grassroot enlightenment (which I’m considering as a project) to charge our older generations to go back to the right values so they can hand them down to the younger ones again like it used to be. We have completely lost it but all hopes is not lost, we can start all over again. Hold unto it, talk about it, stand up for it, teach it, be willing to die for it (whether u die for it or not, you still get to die someday huh?)

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