Monday, February 13, 2006

To look or not to look

Although I was born and bred in Nigeria, I was genuinely surprised to hear of a supposed Nigerian 'tradition' from two of my fellow Nigerian friends. I was told that in Nigeria, it is considered rude and disrespectful to look someone one in the eye when they are talking to you and vice versa. In fact, one of them was beaten if she dared to look her elder sister in the eye and the other was told always to look at her feet!

I can honestly say that in the 30 yrs I lived there, I NEVER heard of this so called tradition. Has anyone else heard of it?

Weird, because I am quite the opposite. I consider it very rude NOT to have someone look me in the eye when I am having a conversation with them. To me it conveys a lack of interest in what I have to say and I immediately terminate any further utterance when this happens.


Blogger Ore said...

Hmmm, I have not hear this either. Maybe it is specific to certain cultures. I know that in the north, it is considered disrespectful to look an elder straight in the eye. But this has nothing to do with the 'evil eye.'

8:00 pm  
Blogger Pilgrimage to Self said...

Ore: Just changed the title of the blog - wouldn't want to give the totally wrong impression.Thanks for pointing it out. And you could be right about the culture thing. One thing I do know from working in the North is that a couple of men refused to shake my hand because I was a woman. Ouch!

8:58 pm  
Blogger Soul said...

I never heard of that..
However, everywhere I turn people are making up traditions.
They seem to be thinking that whatever goes on in their families equals to Nigerian tradition and that is far from the truth.

I've heard the one about not staring elders in the face when you have done something wrong.
But if you do not look at an elder under other circumstances it is considered rude.

In anycase, if someone says something is tradition, ask them if it is their family tradition or a ~Nigerian wide tradition.. then ask for proof.

Most of the time, you'll probably hear people saying... 'ohh that's the way it was in my house.'

6:56 pm  
Blogger Pilgrimage to Self said...

Soul: Coming to think of it I think you may be right. A lot of people do end by saying ....' that's how it was in my house anyway....'

8:47 pm  
Blogger sokari said...

Never heard of it either - maybe it is refering to children and elders as Soul comments or if you are in the presence of a chief?

9:05 am  
Blogger adefunke said...

I think its a Northern thing, not looking elders in the eye.

6:21 am  

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