Age old questions: The Age Wahala

There has always been a time in every child’s life when they wished life could fast forward and they would wake up as adults; to live in their own homes or be immersed in the business world and engage in the exciting things adults do or for their parents and society to finally respect them and their opinions.

Society is often so engrossed with age and in many ways places limitations on what younger people can say, do and how they live their lives.

Age is an important factor in categorization; a way to measure how long a person has been in existence but it is seen in the African society as an untouchable gem. A drug that induces displays of nitwitted entitlement.

People perceived as young are often disregarded and disrespected in public gatherings as your age usually determines how you will be addressed in social gatherings. For instance, in a mixed gathering of different ages, regardless of who arrived first the service policy of ‘first come, first served’ is ignored as children of about 1-15 are attended to first (regardless of when they arrive) then older people before the youths; a system that I do not understand. If we are going to constantly hit on hierarchy then why is this so?

People carry age on their heads and also wear it as extra padding on their shoulders. Age has never translated to maturity and degree of understanding, so why do people still use it as a way to determine intelligence and social status. In various facets of life, people among age groups deemed as young in a circumstance are faced with many stumbling blocks due to the age factors.

Time and time again, people have proved that academic excellence is independent of age; breaking boundaries by entering universities and creating mind blowing inventions at really young ages but we believe that a child is not mature enough or too childish for higher levels just because of the number on a piece of paper. We slow down the learning processes of our kids without first taking the time to evaluate their abilities.

Not to mistake preference for inequity but even though it eases the stress of having to look through multiple bad applications, age is often a barrier in applying for competitions as many organizations tend to put their exceptions from 17 years and less on topics the average 15 year old can put meaningful ideas to paper. This should be encouraged because this simple gesture tasks the children and lights the fire of reading and effective researching in them. Placing undue barriers hinders them from exploring important issues, thus setting a limit on their mental abilities, which only serves to dampen the curious minds of children.

When we were in secondary school, we all had those friends that knew how to drive excellently before 18, The driving schools are tasked with the duty of making sure that people are able to execute good road navigation.

Without disputing that there is a time for everything, why are we deprived of basic things if we are seen fit to accomplish it? Why can’t children obtain driver’s license before that age? Is there really something like driving maturity? What does that even mean?

Job seekers are also posed with obstacles when job hunting because most companies love fresh faces. They want young people with unrealistic levels of experience and degrees before certain ages and ignore actual skill/ knowledge workers. Why is a 26 year old man more valuable than a 22 year old man with the same amount of experience? Society sees age as being equal to experience while counterintuitively praising youthfulness.

Africans hold family the highest and this is usually where one learns about the age gap and it’s significance.

During quarrels or arguments parents tend to side with the older siblings, even when they are wrong while making the younger ones feel inferior; in terms of importance. They imbible submission in the younger children but do not know how to effectively caution the senior children.

Even in trivial things like gifting, the older siblings receive more; not by merit but a questionable privilege of being older.

At a certain age, women are likened to plantain and society demands that they are ripe for marriage, when they exceed that age without settling down they are regarded as too old and become objects of ridicule. A 30 year old woman is too old to be single but the same can’t be said for her male counterpart.

‘Am I your mate?’ An elder’s favorite phrase when they feel challenged by someone who by all means to them is inferior. That question should often times be followed by a ‘No you are not. So what?’ but let’s apply home training. Older people constantly preach respect and ignore the fact that it is infact reciprocal, not coercive. They cling unto age as a source of power and invincibility and are unable to take constructive criticism or corrections on the archaic things they do or say because they think your opinions are irrelevant. We have been taught to apologize when we have wronged another but it is evident that people do not practice what they preach.

Greetings are not mandatory. Culture has misconstrued greeting as a sign of respect when in fact it is just a sign of making your presence known or good wishes. A ‘good morning’ is easily a ‘hello’. Elders even go as far as cursing people they do not know when they are not greeted. The absence of greeting is not the presence of disrespect or lack of proper home training but if it will make your day better, GOOD DAY TO YOU.

De facto parenthood is often a crux of the older children who are held accountable for the actions of the younger ones. This puts pressure on them. They feel like they have to be a certain way and because they are the front runners in the family; the ones people look up to.

‘You aren’t old enough to engage in this conversation’ why not? What makes my own opinions idiotic?

Many times, family issues are not discussed with the younger ones and this leaves them in the dark and puts their future in the hands of people who won’t bear the consequences.

Who is currently teaching you how to operate gadgets in your homes?
Things are changing and the more you listen, the more you learn. “Leaders of tomorrow” is not just a saying, it depicts an recurrent cycle of life so why not start from today to listen more to the kids.

Like Kanye west said ‘LISTEN TO THE KIDS BRO’. Shalom.


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