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This respect-your-elders syndrome is killing us!

published on Friday, 20 January 2017





I love the fact that everyday I get to work with some fantastic minds. A lot of my colleagues are young creative lords that will never seize to speak their minds and as such I thought I'd start to share with you guys a few of their musings because I just think a lot more people should read their thoughts!

Without much ado, here's NJ's piece on "This respect-your-elders syndrome" that's "killing us" in Nigeria.


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Chioma Akpotha


Growing up, my siblings and I weren’t allowed to question our father’s decisions or as much as point out that what he was doing was wrong even when it was glaring. It was a taboo. My one brother who dared to, always found himself at loggerheads with our old man, and it followed way into our adult years. 

But father didn’t mean any harm. He genuinely thought (and still thinks) he knows better simply because he has lived more years on earth than we have. Father, like the rest of our society, believes that the greyer the hair, the wiser the head. 

And this belief, this thinking that older people somehow have the monopoly on wisdom and therefore should not be questioned, is the root of everything that is wrong with our society. 

It is the reason Chioma Akpotha will flare up and threaten thunder and brimstone because Gideon Okeke said an obvious truth – Chinwetalu Agu is VULGAR. 

In her words, ‘I do not like to see or hear small children disrespect elders (whether by age or craft) all in the name of social media. How dare you insult an older talent on social media all in the bid to sound intelligent and all knowing? HOW DARE YOU???!’ 

Chioma’s argument wasn’t that Chinwetalu isn’t vulgar as Gideon rightly pointed out. No, her argument was that Gideon, by virtue of his age had no right to correct an older actor when he’s out of line, even if no one else is ready or bold enough to tell him.

Chiwetalu Agu

And just maybe this might have slid by if she had left it at just that, but she went on to take a jibe at the ‘new generation’ actors for lacking morals. Add this to the fact that Ms Akpotha doesn’t have a reputation for being particularly ‘respectful’. (Remember her stint at Gulder Ultimate Search?) 

A most likely explanation for her rant is that she feels threatened by these ‘new generation’ actors and was hiding under the ‘respect your elder’ veil to vent her jealousy and take a long held-in jibe at the younger entertainers. 

But Chioma knew that hiding under that veil and pretending she gives a fuck about ‘the elders’ was the only way she could get away with it. And she would have if a few of us didn’t know better. 

It is because we’re so inundated with this respect-your-elders syndrome that Governor Ajimobi will shamelessly stand in front of the whole world and tell young students who have been denied access to education for about eight months to apologise for being angry and they’ll say, ‘sorry sah’. 

It is the reason we have 50-year old men confidently parade themselves as youth leaders and why decades after we were told we’re the leaders of tomorrow, tomorrow still never reach. 

Until we do away with this surface-level respect for the elders and start asking the right questions and calling things as they are, our youths are only ever going to be thugs and social media warriors. We’ll make no real progress as a society.


This post first appeared on NET.