There is a reason why a name exists for everyone on a family tree. It is because of the chaotic nature of human beings that distinguishing who is who is very important. Cousin, because I am your uncle’s child. Grand mother because I gave birth to your mother, step father because I’m not your mother’s first husband. See, easy, well until Nigerians looked at the tree, saw that it was not good, then decided to plant theirs. Then from it grew; Mummy Ilesha, Big daddy, Grandma Ifako, Daddy Pastor, Mummy G.O etc.
Ofcourse, the first thing to bring up that caused this major confusion is culture. Nigerians like to think themselves the most respecting people in the world, calling people by their first names shows a lack of respect for elders so they don’t do it, and expect everyone cross culture to not call them by their names either. You would wonder what then the use of the lavish naming ceremonies we usually throw is, if people are going to grow up and be offended at being called by their own names.
This culture is why a Nigerian mother would go to Harrods, in all her iro and buba glory, ready to spend 2000 British pounds on a Gucci bag, but get angry and storm out of the store because the attendant, a lowly, Eastern Europe girl in her early twenties said excuse me lady, instead of excuse me mummy or madam. #TrueStory
It is also why a woman would get angry with her best friend for not adding the prefix bros or egbon to her husband’s name. #AnotherTrueStory. How dare you call my husband by his first name. Note, they are all within the same age group. 1-4 years age difference. Oh wait, did I hear someone say 3 years is not a joke? LOL. I digress.
I’m so weary of people who say their name as Brother so so so or Mrs XYZ especially in gatherings that have nothing to do with age or hierarchy. We create so many unnecessary titles because we don’t want to come across as disrespectful. Chairman, Boss, Big babes, My Guy.
I totally understand this need to not be disrespectful to others but I have a problem with what we term respect vs what respect truly is. A yoruba woman would call you brother agbaya and say she’s respecting you because she even managed to put brother in front. Why not just call me agbaya, and let it be known that you don’t send me. Brother Olorigbeske. Just tell me my head is shaped in a funny way, why add brother? Aunty Onijekuje, Why?
I see grown men, and women call their bosses mummy and daddy, bowing profusely to them when delivering files, yet insult the hell out of their lives behind their backs. So what is the hypocrisy about?
Perhaps it’s not a big deal if someone chooses to call his boss mummy, really. My problem with it is how we make those who don’t say mummy feel like they are being disrespectful.
I attended a workshop in 2014, and the oldest of us was almost 70, followed by a woman in her early 60’s. But this was a writing workshop, had nothing to do with age. Please can you write? good, then show me your writing. The end. I tell you we called them their names, laughed with them, explained what recent slangs meant to them. During break time, people offered to bring their lunch up the stairs for them. People offered to let them use the bathroom first if for instance a queue was building up. People let them choose what time was convenient for them during group work. That is respect. It’s not by Aunty or Big daddy.
Believe me, I know that biology is the least function of what develops into family. Some people who’re not related by blood attain a delicate status in our lives that make us genuinely call them mummy and daddy, but no one should be under any obligation to call any one who isn’t daddy that. It’s not a sign of disrespect like we make it seem. That your dad’s older brother is six years older than him doesn’t make him bigger daddy. It doesn’t diminish who he is either. No, he’s your uncle.
I remember growing up and one day having a big, fat, huge bellied man say to me that he was my daddy and I had to come before him and kneel properly. I didn’t recognise him to start with, so how could he be my daddy. I can’t remember now how I escaped that scene, but that has formed deeply my impression about him. Even on days he isn’t being mean, all I see is his ugly pot belly.
The one that irks me the most, is calling your Pastor daddy, as though Pastor is not a respectable enough term to give to someone who prays for you and brings you God’s word every Sunday. He has to be called daddy in addition, so that the gates of hell can know that you have a spiritual man as daddy?
Respect is more by action than by prefixes to your name, so if you want to be Most Senior Big Daddy Lagos but the one we call raise our eyebrows to and call stingy man because you cannot buy ordinary Tobelerone for your nieces and nephews when coming back from a London trip, please, be my guest.
My friend Jite posted something on her Facebook page this morning in line with this post, and and though it was a few lines, I’ll write my last paragraph based on one line I picked from it, even though this can be an entirely new topic.
With kids, such dear names like Uncle and Aunty we teach them to call older people that are not related to them (in the name of respect) in many ways builds trust, and trust can be misplaced. Let the people that children call Uncle or Aunty be people who they really trust.(Even though we honestly can’t trust everyone, but you get what I mean)
Your gardner is not an Uncle. Your child’s nanny is not an Aunty. The friendly neighbour or man that sells them sweets in the tuckshop around the corner is not an uncle. Let them call them Mr XYZ, Ms ABC. And if they get offended, oh well, it’s not by force to buy sweet in the same store. #KnowYourUncle&Aunty.
Featured Photo credit;tooneyart.tumblr.com