Nigerians And Ageism

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Hello, are you there?

Oh, good, nice to hear that.

See ehn, I shake my head in amazement when I hear comments about how Nigerians don’t read, or how we may be the most uninformed of all the species littering the planet’s surface. Why do I say this? You may ask, because I think Nigerians are the biggest nosey-parkers the Good Lord created. Unless you are an atheist, in which case it would be the almighty spaghetti monster, or some such nonsense. Your pick, really. Where was I? Nigerians and their love for other people’s business. Nigerians will stick their noses into your business, poke the long, non-pointed nose into what doesn’t concern them, and after deliberately nosing around, will begin to pontificate and advise you about your own life, never mind that a lot of times the so-called opinions are based on conjecture. For the sake of brevity, I will be sharing an episode from my diary of weirdisms and strange occurrences. In the following episode, I saw off a friend, whose identity is not part of the business of this post, upon watching her enter her bus, I entered a keke, and waited for it to fill up so we could proceed back to where I was coming from. Then this woman entered the keke.

Me: Good evening.

Woman: ehen, my pikin, good evening.

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See ehn, forget that thing, no matter how young they say I look, this woman no for fit born me, no, she no old reach, and besides, that day was Mothering Sunday, and I hadn’t yet spoken to my sweetheart(yeah, that’s what I call my mother), so I was feeling somehow, that kind of “I’m not angry but don’t provoke me” mood.

Woman: I fit be your mama, this year I go clock 41 years, you go pay for my keke today.

Me: *opens bag, begins fishing for headphones*

Woman: I no fit born you? How many years you be?

Me: madam (as politely as possible) do I know you?

Woman: no now, no be one day person de start de know person? Oya tell me your age, are you up to twenty five? Are you up to twenty six?

Me: (incredulous) Ha, madam, do I look that young? That’s a good thing o, thank you.

By this time, dusk was falling, and I guess a combination of dusk and maybe her eyesight, plus reduced visibility inside the keke, were the factors that didn’t allow her see the greys that came for excursion on my head.

Meanwhile, another lady entered the keke, which made the driver (rider, whatever) start the engine and zoom off. The lady sat for a while, watching my interaction with the woman, and as soon as she got a load of what was going on, she hastily put up her phone and began to make a dummy call. I was next to her, and I didn’t hear any noise, no connecting tone, no ringing, no connect tone. She conversed with the air for a while, and hung up, before grabbing her headphones and instantly shutting herself off from the conversation.

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Woman: so where you dey go? You don marry? You be pikin na, you never see anything, abi you don marry? You don reach thirty? Wetin be your name?

Me: madam, I don’t actually know you, and it is very somehow to walk up to a perfect stranger and start asking all sorts of questions.

Woman: I can ask you anything I like, and you go answer, because I be old woman, 41 years, e no easy. I sat there, wondering why my mum wasn’t picking her calls, and waiting for the ride to end so I could alight and make an attempt to connect with my mum and wish her a happy mothering Sunday.

At this point, let me ask, does this philosophy of ageism extend to perfect strangers? Like, you have spent a few years on this planet, and therefore the sum total of the experiences in the life of  a perfect stranger are trash?

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Biko, most respectfully, let me ask, did you legislate or have a say in the decisions and actions that culminated in your being a guest of the good lord at the time you came around? Did yoyu have a say in t he factors that make you your current age? What right have you, therefore, to assume that the next person, a full-fledged adult, has not seen anything? A friend once put it this way:

“you have stayed in a small room in a hotel for five days. On the evening of your fifth day, someone shows up, and takes a suite in the same hotel. Then you begin to shame the person, and reduce him/her to nothing, because you are a longer staying guest in the hotel. It makes no difference that the person’s bill for the suite for a night can cover your bill for the five days you have stayed, and then some. You just shame, and belittle, because dingy little room in hotel”

It is this same mentality and mindset that makes lecturers in universities slam bright youngsters with comments like “I’ve been a phd before you were born, what do you think you know?”

Oya, tell me one experience you have had of this monster called ageism.

Use the comments section. Thank you.

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One Thought to “Nigerians And Ageism”

  1. Nick

    So much ado about “ageism” and its associated wisdom in Africa. So I, like Tina Turner, ask:
    Ageism, what’s wisdom got to do with it?

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