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The Erosion Of Respect For Elders In Nigerian Culture: A Reflection On President Tinubu’s Fall

Feature Article The Erosion Of Respect For Elders In Nigerian Culture: A Reflection On President Tinubu’s Fall
FRI, 14 JUN 2024 LISTEN

In many African societies, particularly in Nigeria, the elderly are revered as custodians of wisdom and tradition. They are the living bridges to the past and the advisors for the future. However, recent events have cast a spotlight on the changing attitudes towards the elderly, particularly in the political sphere.

For instance, the incident involving President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s fall during the Democracy Day celebrations has become a focal point for examining the erosion of this cultural respect.

President Tinubu, at 72, experienced what many would consider a minor mishap as he slipped and fell while boarding a vehicle at Eagle Square. This event, while physically inconsequential, has sparked a significant reaction from the public. Instead of concern or respectful privacy, the incident was met with mockery and became viral on social media platforms. This response is indicative of a broader shift in societal attitudes, where respect for elders is no longer valued, but rather conditional and often forgotten in the face of political rivalry or the pursuit of entertainment.

The mockery of President Tinubu’s fall is not an isolated case but reflects a national phenomenon where the dignity of the elderly is compromised for various reasons. It raises questions about the values we uphold and the kind of society we are nurturing. The questions against the foregoing backdrop in this context are, “Are we moving towards a culture that prioritizes youth and vitality over experience and wisdom?”, and “Does the quest for political power overshadow the basic tenets of respect and empathy?”

The reason for the foregoing questions cannot be farfetched as in traditional African culture, such an incident would have been handled with grace and concern. The community would rally around the elder, offering support and reaffirming their value regardless of their physical vulnerabilities.

At this juncture, it seems as if we have all forgotten an African proverb that says, “A child who pays respect to the elderly will live long enough to enjoy the fruit of his respect”, and the one that says “Those who respect the great, pave the way for their own greatness”.

Without a doubt, it is a principle of life. When you honor or respect the great and elderly, doors of opportunity and blessings open for you. This is because honoring others, specifically those above or ahead of you, is a sign of humility and humility is the gateway to greatness! When it comes to a principle in this context, it does not matter our tribe, religion or party affiliation! It works for anyone who practices it. In fact, this proverb is not just a principle, it is also a paradox! It sounds like a lie but it is the truth, just like many other paradoxes of life. The way up is down. The way to have respect is to give it. The way to keep your blessing is to share it with others. The way to know is to admit we do not know.

Without a doubt, the foregoing proverbs encapsulate the protective and respectful role elders play in society. However, the reaction to President Tinubu’s fall suggests a departure from these values. It is a wake-up call for a return to the principles that have long defined African communities. As we navigate the complexities of modernity and global influences, it is imperative to preserve the cultural ethos that honors and protects our elders. Their fall should not be a source of ridicule but a reminder of our collective responsibility to uphold their dignity and the cultural heritage they represent.

In fact, President Tinubu’s fall is more than just a physical stumble; it is a metaphor for the cultural shift that threatens the fabric of Nigerian society. It is a call to action for all Nigerians to rekindle the spirit of respect for the elderly, to ensure that the values of compassion, dignity, and reverence remain integral to our cultural identity.

Without any scintilla of hyperbole, it is germane to opine that while this piece reflects on the incident involving President Tinubu that it speaks to a broader implications for respect towards elders in African culture. It is a reminder that while times may change, the values that define a society should remain steadfast, especially in how we treat our elders.

At this juncture, it is expedient to ask, “How can the tradition of respecting the elderly ones among us be sustained?” The answer to the foregoing question cannot be farfetched as schools and communities can play a significant role in promoting intergenerational activities, which are essential for fostering understanding and respect between different age groups.

Therefore, it is germane to opine that there are strategies to encourage these valuable interactions, and that such strategies cut across intergenerational learning programs, mentoring, community service projects and shared Spaces.

For the sake of clarity, it is germane in this context to explain that intergenerational learning programs entails the implementation of programs where children and elders can learn from each other. This could include shared storytelling sessions, art projects, or technology workshops where skills are exchanged.

In fact, the wisdom of respect in this context is sacrosanct as the pragmatism of youths honoring elders is key to a prosperous future. This is as in the vibrant tapestry of Nigerian culture, respect for elders is a thread that weaves through the fabric of society, binding communities with the strength of tradition and the wisdom of generations. For today's Nigerian youths, this respect is more than a courtesy; it is a cornerstone of societal harmony and personal growth.

Against the forgoing backdrop, it is germane to opine that respect for elders is deeply rooted in Nigerian values. It is a sign of good upbringing and reflects the character of the youth. By showing respect, young Nigerians acknowledge the life experiences, sacrifices, and contributions of the older generation. This reverence is not just about age; it is about valuing the knowledge and guidance that can only be gained through years of living and learning.

In fact, in a rapidly changing world, the gap between generations can seem vast. However, when youths show respect to their elders, they bridge this gap. They create opportunities for dialogue and exchange, allowing traditional wisdom to inform modern innovation. This intergenerational connection is crucial for preserving cultural heritage while fostering progress.

Also, elders are living libraries, rich with stories of triumph and cautionary tales. By respecting and engaging with them, youths can glean invaluable lessons without having to endure the same hardships. This transfer of knowledge is essential for personal development and can help young individuals navigate the complexities of life with greater ease.

Not only that, respecting elders teaches empathy. It encourages youths to consider perspectives outside their own, fostering a sense of community and shared humanity. In a society where empathy is valued, governance improves, as leaders are more attuned to the needs of all citizens, including the most vulnerable.

Without a doubt, today's Nigerian youths are not just future leaders; they are active participants in shaping the nation's destiny. By respecting elders, they demonstrate the qualities necessary for good governance: humility, patience, and the ability to listen. These traits are vital for any individual aspiring to lead with integrity and wisdom.

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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