R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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We all want to be respected, right? According to an online dictionary, respect means ‘A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements’. I don’t really think so. I feel that respect has nothing to do with admiration rather a sense of wanting the best for the other person because of their status. Their status could be that they are older than you or that they are a lady or that they are a man or that they are in a position of authority. With my own definition it then means that everyone should respect everyone because we are all (okay, most of us!) female or male!

I remember when we were young and had to ride in public transport, there was no way that Hipilicious and I were going to remain seated in a Nyayo Bus or KBS while an older person was standing. Even in queues to see a doctor or to buy a product, we showed respect to older people by giving up our seats for them. I guess it was fueled by our Coasterian background which instilled a sense of respecting elders by having a special greeting for them. Shikamoo, the greeting used for elders literally means ‘I bow and hold your feet’. It was a bit confusing that when we used this same greeting with our elders in Nairobi or at Mr. Adrian’s country side – the older person usually got confused…. That’s beside the point. If someone was even a day older than you, you had to show them respect as your elder and use the Shikamoo greeting.

Mr. Adrian’s father, Simon, was a well-respected gentleman. He was very strict and disciplined and had no time for nonsense. His children were very naughty and sometimes I think wild but one thing they had in common was that they deeply respected Simon. Even in their 40s and 60s (the age that I observed them with their father) they had to watch what they said and did around him. It was funny watching my uncles get so worried that their father would find out some mischievousness they had gotten themselves into while they themselves were fathers. What did Simon have to do for his grandchildren to respect him? Nothing. Did his children have to do anything for us to respect them too? No. Just the fact that they were our fathers, uncles, aunties and mothers was enough. And by extension, everyone around their age was accorded this same respect.

I get so shocked when I meet with kids who shout at their parents, throw tantrums in the shops or don’t obey their parents instructions. For real. They should live for one week with Mrs. Adrian. I wonder how they will behave after that week. How does a parent teach their child how to respect others? I cant remember having a sit down with my mother for a discussion on ‘How to respect other people’ but I know that I can’t go around NOT respecting other people and their property. Yes, Kenyans have a habit of not respecting each other’s property – throwing trash anywhere, government misusing our taxes, sitting on someone’s fence, putting up posters on walls and houses, overtaking when you can see another car on the lane already, etc.

Yesterday while fueling my car, some young guy (looked about 23 – 26 years old) came in to the station with a blowhorn and was shouting the virtues of his favourite presidential candidate. A fuel station attendant went to him and told him to leave the premises because they are not interested in any presidential candidate, they are just interested in selling fuel. And the dude went beserk.

Who do you think you are? Can you just die already? This country belongs to people like me.

You think you can tell me what to do and what not to do? You dog! Did you tell me what time to wake up?

He then placed his blow horn on the path of incoming vehicles and said, ‘You are not getting any business in this station today because I will not allow any car to pass. Do you know my blow horn is licenced and insured?

As the customers looked at the young man in shock, the attendant told him, ‘Okay, sorry for telling you what to do. But please get out of our premises, we are trying to do business here

You who is an employee thinks you have more rights to be here than me? I am a customer! A customer is king and you cannot talk to a customer like that.

Okay, so what would you like to buy?

Don’t talk to me like that? I can take you to court. I will sue you.

Thank God that by that time, I was already done with my business there and was driving out but I could barely see a thing because I had tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe that the young man would shout and disrespect an old man like that. The fuel attendant was an elderly man, maybe in his sixties, who was really trying to calm the young man down but NOOOO, the dude had to make his presence felt. As I left the station, the question ringing is my head was, WHO IS HIS MOTHER!?

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