Ms Psyche: How Not To Be Your Brother’s Keeper.

You don’t just say good morning, and walk away(2ce)
You ask about the family…….

Those are the lyrics from a song by Bright Chimezie. That’s the philosophy of the African relationship, I guess. When we meet, we greet, ask about the entire extended family including the family dog and car.

It always begins with a: ‘how are you?’ And it snowballs. Its our culture as Africans to care about our friends, family, neighbours, etc however, where do we draw the line, where does our ‘innocent and caring’ questions turn cruel? A lot of times those questions we ask in the guise of caring are brutal, insensitive, or maybe the person just doesn’t feel like talking about that issue.

The most annoying part is where questions are asked, the person bares his or her heart, no solution idea is proferred, all that is offered is ‘sorry’ and encouragement to persevere; ‘it is well’.
Over the years I have seen people be cruel with their questions under the guise of being our brother’s keeper.

Let’s get started with the ‘weight watchers’. I don’t mean those on a diet regimen, no, its those who have assumed the unpaid job of watching others weight. In the first few sentences of pleasantries exchange they must mention your weight: ‘you have added’, ‘you’ve lost all that weight’, or ‘see how fat your cheeks are, don’t burst o!’

Then the ‘skin and complexion watchers’: ‘why are you so dark?’ ‘You have turned to oyibo!’ Or ‘why is your face so pimporous?’ And all such statements, and some go on to give unsolicited advice. Whatever happened to; ‘if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything’?

We usually frame our ‘care’ in a loving manner, usually expressing a desire to ‘celebrate’ with the person, or wanting the best for the person. Questions like: ‘When are you getting married so I can do aso-ebi?’ Are common. Like really? That’s the reason you want him/her to get married?

I think, before we ask this probing, embarrassing questions, maybe we need to put ourselves in the concerned party’s shoes, ie. if the question(s) were directed at you, will it be ok?

Maybe I’m missing the point, maybe I’m un-African at my core that’s why I find this questions unnecessary and irritating. I believe your care will be put to better use by praying for the person, or only ask when you have a useful advice to profer, because we are not just our brother’s keeper, we are also our brother’s maker.
What do you guys think, are this questions really necessary to show care?

Ms Psyche.


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