Hello there! Thank you for reading us on this good day of “greeting”. If you have been reading us, you know by now that our major task is to help you impact your world with value. In that way we are able to through our various capacities be the agents of the change we want to see. There is a high rate of decline in our value today. This decline is responsible for the delinquencies we see in our society today especially among the Gen Z.
In this season, we are committed to bringing these values to the spotlight for our greater good. We will also have these in our family podcasts for children, teens, young adults, guardians, and parents. The first value we will be discussing is, “Greeting”.
WHAT I WAS TAUGHT
Growing up, greeting was one of the major traits my parents inculcated in my siblings and me. I remember walking down the streets with my mum and intentionally walked pass an adult without greeting. I do not remember my age at the time, but I am certain I was in the junior secondary.
My mother called my attention to the omission. I told her it was intentional as the man always ignores my greetings . After listening patiently, she asked me to go back and greet the man.
Grudgingly, I walked back to where he was and greeted him. His response was still the usual silence. Well even if he was going to respond that day, the long face I wore would repel it.
WHAT I SEE TODAY
Let’s fast-forward to this day of the Gen Z where it is a norm for children to greet who they know when they want. Remember this is not written to throw stones, but to help us be the agent of change we desire to see.
Today, I see parents plead with their infants and teenagers to greet. I also hear young adults say things like “anybody can greet first, it must not be the younger person”. Sadly, I hear adults verbally abuse people for not greeting them and how pained they can be over the incidence. These series of occurrence bring one question to my mind, “Why greet?”
One of the major problems Nigerians have with colonization is the lack of cultural integration. This is because we do not know why our ancestors did what they did, so we carry it on without asking the question of essence; whether good or bad we carry it until something else snatches it from our shoulders and the trend continues.
Now back to the question, why do we greet? Of what importance is greeting especially in our society today. Do we greet because people are older than we are? What then happens with your age mates, how about your boss who is younger than you are? What of the stranger? It is true that insecurity makes us avoid talking to strangers but then you know a decent environment when you find yourself in one.
I have spent a lot of time asking myself the essence of greeting and why it should be an obligation. First things first, greeting is generally and exchange of pleasantries or the first step for an introduction. However to understand why we should greet, we need to know how we greet, perhaps the knowledge of this will tell if there is any need to still greet. I will be particular with the Igbo culture here.
In the Igbo culture, there are different greetings for the time and activities. For example, in the morning you say, “I bola chi?” or “I puta na”, or “iteta go”, or “anyi aputasia”. All of which means welcome to a new day.
However if you choose to translate these sentences directly to English they may lose their meaning. One may say, but we greet “ututu oma”, yes we do as a result of the direct translation of English to Igbo (Good Morning).
While this has become a norm, this is actually not the right way to greet in the Igbo society before colonization. Like good morning, ‘ututu oma’ came with colonization and prior to colonization Ndi Igbo exchanged pleasantries and children greeted parents, just as you would expect from a communalistic society.
During the day or at work we say, “disike , daalu”, and other greetings that inquire about the activities or encourage the person. When it is dismissal, we say “ka o di”, “ngwanu”, “ka emesia”, and for bedtime we say “ka chi fo”, “ka chi boo”. The dismissal and bedtime are basically a wish to see you again or the hope of a new day.
An examination of these greetings show that they imply good wishes, humility, and care. Basically this is what greeting is about in the communalistic Igbo society; a symbol of care, humility, and good wishes.
You probably may be puzzled with the thoughts of how you know who should greet who, especially since these greetings do not necessarily have sir or ma attached to them. Well that’s where salutations come in.
Salutations are hails of the senior by the junior, or the older by the younger. Hence, adults are traditionally greeted based on their identity. For instance, you would just hail the Obi of Akokwa “Obi ooooo” politely and he waves back and that’s it. You could further attach his the title of his royal dynasty as the Obi to it.
Here’s a clearer example, “Ogbuefi! 1 na Akokwa”, and that suffices. Same way you would say ‘Mama I teta go?’ (In direct translation it sounds like Mama are you awake?) That’s not what it means, it actually means mama welcome to a new day, and pleasantry goes on. It is a sign of honour and respect.
While everyone deserves honour and respect, there is a hierarchical order which is why it is mostly expected of the younger ones, and juniors. Hence you get salute your boss irrespective of the age difference.
WHY WE SHOULD GREET
The best part of communication is passing information, hence for clarity the reason for greeting will be stated here. These reasons are derived from what greetings and salutations mean to us traditionally. Here greeting also represents salutations.
Greeting is a symbol of good wishes hence it does not matter who greets first. Greeting is a sign of respect for oneself and the other person. It is a token of care and sometimes it does not matter who shows it first. Finally, greeting is a symbol of honour, this is the part we neglect today in ignorance.
The greater person always blesses the lesser person that is to say that the one who is higher blesses the one who is following, the comparative here is not about who is better than the other, or who is worth more than the other in the context of (inferiority/superiority) complex, no. It is rather about the one who is higher by times (age) and rank.
There is an honour attached to greeting anyone at all, especially an older person or a senior. Remember the only commandment with promise that says, “honour your father and mother that your days be long in the land the Lord your God has given you” (Exodus 20:12). Your parents here include your bosses, and people who are older than you. The law of honour opens us up to so many blessings that we may not know. The impact of this is such that the reward for honour will find its way to you, even if you seem unnoticed.
Today find out the traditional way of greeting in your place, know it, understand it, and see how you can pass it on to the next generation. Greeting is a sign of humility, bowing hearts in honour. This is not to say that greeting good morning or ‘ututu oma’ is wrong. No, it is rather a call to understand our greeting and salutation culture properly.
If you have never taken any of these into consideration before, now is still a good time to do that and start bowing hearts as we become agents of the change we want to see.