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If there is one thing the Yoruba culture is well known for, it is the culture of respect. We hold respect highly when it comes to our elders.

Who or what is an elder?

In the Yoruba culture anybody older than you is regarded as an elder and should be treated as such. Even if the person is a year or even just months older than you, they are your elders, because we believe that year or those months cannot be bought. Therefore you must submit to their superiority.

Once you have figured out who exactly is regarded as an elder, there is a long list of dos and don’ts that accompany this:

  • You never, ever call an elder by their first name.
  • Do not speak back to an elder…
  • Don’t give an elder something with your left hand…
  • An elder selects their meat first…
  • You wait for an elder to invite you to sit….
  • You say thank you to an elder when they fart… yes this is true…
  • You kneel or prostrate to greet an elder, morning, afternoon, evening, outside, inside, anywhere really…

And the list goes on. Failure to do any of one of these things often results in you being branded as ‘rude’ ‘uncultured’ and someone that is not well trained. Nowadays though, a lot of these customs and traditions are not so rigidly observed especially by those in the diaspora but still it is worth knowing especially when visiting older people or going back to Nigeria.

Have a watch of the video below where I explore some more of the dos and don’ts of interacting with people older than you especially how to speak to them.

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