January 3, 2007

Brother, Sister, Aunty, Uncle

This new year has been one for reminiscing. My sister in England and I have been talking for hours for the past couple of days. We talk about everything. We're getting older, so we talk about getting married...about being with our respective partners....about raising our children...about God. I love her. Remember her?

We've talked about so many things. Like my brother. When after 13 odd years, my father decides we should start calling my brother...BROTHER O. All these years of calling him O and now we have to start calling him Brother O. Needless to say you barely heard us calling him for a while...and we finally reverted back to our old ways of just calling him O...it's not like he even minded

I told her how it is with me...I don't call certain people anything. I've gone through life with these people not calling them anything. You may wonder how do I get their attention.....well I wait for them to look my way or I go directly in their line of vision and of course when I start speaking and looking at you, you will know it's you Im talking to right?

I remember when my little cousins were born. I told them they could call me Diamond. Their mom was like NO WAY. It's Aunty Diamond. I felt so old. I was only 18 and had just started College not too long ago. I thought it was really old fashioned but you know what...now that Im in my 20s Im glad that they do call me "aunty". Because I just cant imagine them calling me by my regular name. I know them calling me "aunty" doesnt necessarily mean they will respect me, but I think having that prefix will give them a hint that this is someone I SHOULD be respecting

I was talking to some of my relatives and their friends last year. I told them Igbo's dont really do this. I have close igbo friends and their siblings were much older and we called everyone just by their name. I think it's more of a Yoruba thing. You should see the way they were quick to shout me down...two of them were igbo...they said it is the Igbo's that dont have culture or rather that have forgotten their culture tha do this. I was quite defensive because I took it as a pesonal insult against some of my really best friends. I mean I grew up with these people and I didnt notice any lack of respect for their elders...I didnt notice a denial of their culture either...it was much celebrated.

Anyways, I left them alone...they left me to my "americana" way of thinking. What is it worth really? I only call about 7 people in this world using "brother" or "sister"....that's because for 5 of them, I grew up saying that...even then it was a challenge. I had been calling them by name for about 4 years and then one day, one of them told me to start calling them using "brother" and "sister". Im used it to it now...it's become a part of their name. The 6th person, is my mom's godson...I dont think he would dig me calling him by his name...and the 7th person is my friend's sister...everyone calls her that...so I dont want to be the odd one out. I asked her what the difference was between calling her "sister" and calling her "aunty"...she said she thinks for someone who is much much older..."aunty" is probably preferred but for someone who is sorta like a friend...still older...kinda close to you...you call them "sister/brother"...whatever...

Another thing is "mommy". My friends when they call my mom, some of them anyways will call her "mommy"....Me on the other hand I dont call my friends' parents anything...I feel weird calling them "aunty" especially if I dont really know them or am close to them but really really like them...you know...if there isnt that feeling of familiarity. Calling other people "mommy" is not really my thing iether...so I typically wont call them anything

Even my godfather...I dont call him anything. I remember one time he called wanting to speak to my mom and I said AVM A is on the line...and he talked to my mom about it...that I should be calling him "Daddy Festac" or something like that sha... I guess I just got used to calling him that as a Kid...I mean the title changed as he progressed thru the military...but I never called him anything so personal...even though he's not my real dad, he's acted in place of...and he considers me his daughter...his only daughter at that....

My sister was at a party recently and she saw some younger cousins and they were calling her by her name and she felt "Wow, there should be something attached to my name...like aunty...cousin" Of course she would not insist...but that's how she felt you know

My aunties here with me, one of them I call her by her name...she's American and I call her by name because that is what my cousins call her. When I first met her, I thought it was weird because in Nigeria, you dont do such but I got used to it. The other one I call "aunty". When I first met her about 2 years ago, I didnt know if I should call her aunty or not...We all started off calling her by name....but every time my uncle who she is now married to would refer to her, he would say "aunty". She's a traditional Nigerian...so I dont think with her it would fly either just saying her name. She talks to me about not forgetting where I come from...sometimes she says Ive been in the States too long that maybe Ive forgotten the culture. I get upset at this sometimes because I understand there are traditional ways of doing things but I wasnt necessarily raised with ALL these traditions

Ive never thought that using these prefixes mean respect but as I get older, I appreciate it. I dont insist anyone calls me using "aunty" or "sister" but I like to hear it now. I remember when my friend K from Nigeria called me. She was like "aunty Diamond"...I was a little surprised....I mean Im older by about 6 years but she hadnt called me that before...but I guess we'd been apart for a while...like over 10 years and I guess at home, maybe she wouldnt ordinarily call me by name.

I know alot of this has to do with pride. I've swallowed it or I try to consciously swallow it. One of my really close friends mom that I hang with...I call her "Mommy".....rarely though. I guess when I see my godfather, I will call him daddy...it just feels weird is all...but I must get over that. It takes nothing for me to say these things and I guess it is my culture...I should respect that

I guess when I get married I'd have to call my husband's parents mommy and daddy....God help with this. Cuz I think I'd be okay just saying Mr. and Mrs

Just my thoughts

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, i tend to agree with you that the yorubas are more demanding with the respect issue than the igbos are. But not necessarily, there are igbo folks who unconsciously or consciously have been influenced by yoruba culture and who will demand it. Where in-laws are involved and for the sake of peace, especially with potential in-laws, i would try to understand the ongoing assumptions with my husband to be.. but where u are not sure,or if there is no clear indication as to the in-law's preference, defaulting to brother/sister prefixes could help one avoid future issues... my 2 cents.

Belle said...

yeah the whole mummy-daddy thing gets me too... i already have a mom and dad, thank you very much!

Vera Ezimora said...

Diamond, girl you're right on the money! I'm Igbo and I DO NOT call people brother/sister/aunty/uncle just cause they a couple years older than I am. On the other hand, i do not disrespect them in anyway. I know my place, and they know theirs.

I alwayz find it weird when my best friend (Busola) calls people who are only two years older than her sister/brother/uncle/aunty. It is sooooo flippin weird 2 me. She's always saying I'm rude, but I'm not now. I call mom's friends and people in her age group but calling them mommy is not even an option.

needless to say, I do the same thing you do....I don't call them anything. I just look in their direction and try to get their attention or watever.

azuka said...

Interesting perspective.

I know a family whose children are spaced out with one year in-between. They call the next person up in the hierarchy 'brother.' My younger brother is 5 years younger than I am and 8 years younger than my elder brother but there's still respect in my family.

I try to stay aloof, never getting close to people who expect me to commit the ultimate sacrilege of calling them brother or anything else.

Even my uncles and aunties are 'sir' and 'ma.' My favorite aunt is my mom's younger sister and I call her aunty -- she likes it. As for the people older than my mom in the family, sir and ma would do, thank you!

Yoruba is such an annoying language. You say 'Iwo da' to your younger ones and 'enyi da' to your older ones. Even yesterday when I was talking to a friend and called him 'aburo mi' he said it was supposed to be 'egbon mi' because he's older.

What the...?

Jaycee said...

lolll @ the calling u "aunty" part. I dread that title...it just sounds weird. But I get that it's all abt respect sha, and it's an admirable thing. Anyways, I can't really tell how u feel cos no one calls me that...for now at least...lol...maybe when I get white hair!

SapphireAster said...

Diamond I feel you too much on this. I wasnt raised to call anyone aunty or uncle or brother or sister. \my aunts even protested that \i call my brother and sister who are 4 and 5 years old \'\brother and sister\'\i refused..and my siblings refused too. they promised to beat me if \i callthem then that. As my sister says...no one was christenede 'Sister/Aunty/Uncle Whatever'
I have to admit that I think that as yorubas, the issue of respect is taken a little too far. First you have to call people aunty or uncle..and then if you dont kneel till ur knee peels of...its not good enough. On top of that you are expected to say thank you at least 3 times before people rest. Wetin?

Life through rose-tinted glasses said...

hey diamond happy new years!!!

I feel u on the whole aunty thing i only call my siblings sister and brother cos they're years older than me i feel really uncomfortable calling older cousins sister maybe its just that the closeness isnt there and calling other people's mums mummy is just as uncomfortable...

babe hope u have a great year...xx

Diamond said...

oh this year will be a great one...see Life posted a comment! You know you're missed right?

Good advice Anon...for the sake of peace...I feel you on that...

you're feeling me belle...

vera...so you're not only a man snatcher...you're also rude...i knew it!!!! LOL... im just playing o. i dont think you have to use all those to respect...and besides for the most part respect is earned

well Azuka...it's kinda like French...you use "tu" for informal and "vous" to signify respect...languages have different rules...you just have to learn them :-)

okay o AUNTY JAYCEE...LOL..YOU NEW TITLE BABE

SAPPHIRE...that kneeling thing...one time i kinda curtsied to greet someone...by sister was like NO OH....BOTH KNEES MUST TOUCH THE GROUND...i guess we have to humble ourselves because it takes nothing out of us to do it

The Life of a Stranger called me said...

Hey D - back in the day igbos called their elders aunty and uncles but they call it (Da or Damu for aunty; or dede or demu - for uncle) so if I was born back in the day they will call me da life of a stranger - LOL -

But these days it doesn't happen - but we still call our elders like 20 yrs older aunyties LOL. But yes what you say is true I find that I call yoruba ladies aunties automatically -

But NEVER mummy or daddy - for what - I feel I might be disrespecting my parents if I do.

Vera Ezimora said...

Diamond, did u just call me a man snatcher? LOL. Whose man did I snatch? Bloke has always been mine.

Anonymous said...

Diamond hawk, do u know any Zainab sanusi? Would be glad if u reply

DiAmOnD hawk said...

hey Stranger welcome back...

Vera you sef....Bloke was not always yours o...but I've let him go finally w/2006...you can have him

Anon....do i know Zainab Sanusi...why do you ask?

Nilla said...

Interesting....
I feel you on most of them especially the one of calling your friends parents "Dad" and "Mum"..I can't do that.

Anonymous said...

Diamond hawk i was asking cos i also call her zane, and i knew she got married this past summer, just trying to get intouch with her. Would be glad if u can help out