It’s my Grand-father and I; it seems I am the only one in the world who is still very fond of grannies with gray hair . Someone told me sometime: “There’s a way old people smell, I can’t stand it; I don’t like going close to them. Another said: Their archaic behavior is not something I want to learn in my prime”.
These and many more are silly ideas coined about old people, thus justifying the dilapidated state of our morals and African view of the gray-headed.
He keeps saying: “What an elder sees while sitting, a child can never see even if he/she climbs the tallest mountain in the world
“A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing; it is either it is chasing something or something is chasing it
“A hunter with only one arrow does not shoot carelessly
“Character is like pregnancy, it will not be hidden forever
“When brothers fights to death, a stranger inherits their property
“When there’s no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you
“To get lost is to learn the way
“The fool speaks, the wise man listens
“The Lion that stays at home too long will start to feel like a Cat
“God is good, but never dance with a Lion
“Ashes fly back into the face of him who throws them
“Do a good deed and throw it into the sea
“When Elephant fights, it is the grass that suffers
“Don’t look where you fell, look where you slipped
“If you don’t want the tail of a Monkey to touch you, don’t attend a monkey dance
“Do not let an old flame burn you twice”.
Sometimes I get tired of him because his wise-sayings are too much for my ignorant heart to digest. Then I would say: “I feel stupid around you, because I understand nothing in your world”.
Centuries back, “Gray-headed ones” were seen as symbol of “truth and uprightness”, others sees them as the “eyes and the mouth-piece of the gods”, others too sees them as the “book of wisdom”, the list goes on and on.
In those days, “the Gray-headed” were respected in fact, it was a taboo to disrespect an elder; a child who disobeys or disrespects an elder is severely punished by their parents and in worst cases, they die miserably. I can also remember that children, even young adults then would never sit while an elder is standing; be it a man or a woman, they would quickly vacate the seat and hand it over to the elderly one.
They don’t talk while an elder is talking, they don’t let them carry weighty things in their present. They appear very comported and respectful; but today, the reverse is the case.
Recently, young adults (even children) have been spotted beating up the elderly publicly and in their homes. What has happened to our cherished African moral values?
Should we blame it on civilization?
The diminishing cultural value attached to Civilization is quite alarming. Parents no longer attach much importance to the inculcation of African Moral Values in their children. Children on the other hand, are no longer receptive (for those whose parents still cares to educate on the subject matter) as a result of lack of proper enforcement of such moral values into them.
Things have really changed in Africa as it affects our moral values owing to Development and Civilization, or are we (Africans) expected to remain “Under-developed” in order to maintain our moral consciousness? I don’t think that is the idea!
In as much as we need to be “flexible” with Western as well as other cultures, we at the same time needs to uphold our moral values, especially when they are in line with our Creator’s (God) view of the elderly. He himself recognizes, assures, treasures and loves the “Gray-headed ones”.
In line with this, therefore, do not severely criticize an older man, on the contrary, appeal to him as a father…don’t cast them off, don’t abandon them when their strength fails…their beauty is in their hair. (1Tim. 5:1, Psalm 71:9, Prov. 20:29).