It’s okay to question elders and elderly leaders! – Nkem Ndem

It’s okay to question elders and elderly leaders! – Nkem Ndem


“Why are you arguing? Can’t you see he is your elder?” “When elders speak, you listen and obey”.



There is this thing about Nigerians and the fanatic respect for elders. You are expected to show respect and great regard for elders; even when they are being inappropriate, rude and bad mannered. You put up with crap from the Mama across the street who keeps asking you rude and personal questions; the Ma’am in church who blatantly condemns the way you raise your children; then goes ahead to blatantly call you a lazy parent and your child ill-mannered; the Daddy who spouts the worst profanities and maybe also even attempts to touch you inappropriately at the slightest opportunity…They are elders.



What I find rather unsettling is someone engaging in or agreeing to something they know is 100% wrong just to appease an elder. Worse, depriving themselves or subjecting themselves to unhealthy situations just because they were asked to do so by an elder.



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I was going through old posts on a social media page recently. I found a rather annoying argument in the comment section of a post between two users. One was arguing against a move made by President Muhammadu Buhari and the other now said; “How can you question Buhari? He is your elder. You are not well brought up!”



For want of a better way to describe my reaction, this comment made me see stars! Hello?  What has him being an elder got to do with him refusing to take responsibility for things concerning a country he swore to protect and serve? Don’t you think that if Buhari, as an elder got challenged more by the younger population; there would be more accountability for our Nation?



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You have to know; I am not against respect for elders at all. In fact, if anything I support it as it a commandment in the bible…and I am a Christian. However, I have come to understand that being an elder does not always mean “right”; or necessarily mean wiser. If you insist on that mentality, you are doing both yourself and the elder a disservice.



It’s okay to question elders and elderly leaders! – Nkem Ndem




The point I am trying to make is simply this. Logic and commonsense dictate that, when deliberating with others, we should be open to their views. We should listen carefully and try to understand their reasoning. Also, we should do our best to respond to their thoughts with clear, rational and relevant arguments.



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In this regard, I believe that when opinion differs from an elder’s; it makes more sense to tackle it, rather than swallow it, to express it… respectfully of course. It doesn’t matter if it is your employer, your father, your pastor, your grandparents. I am starting to think that if we disagreed more with our elders in this country; things might actually move forward.




Please note that disagreeing with someone doesn’t always imply being rude. There are ways you can set out your argument respectfully and get the other party to see your point. When it comes to dealing with elders, sometimes, you have to stay even-keel and use common sense. Respect is a two-way street and you needn’t continuously submit yourself to mistreatment because they are older; despite what culture and tradition demand.




It’s never wrong to tell somebody that they are wrong. It’s wrong if you don’t tell them. Can you tell them without arguing? Probably. Can you speak to them respectfully and with honor and still stand your ground?



Yes. Let’s be better please.

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