Thursday, 4 November 2010
Thirst for Oppression and the Hierarchy Dance?

Dear reader this is a re-write!  I accidently deleted the original version that I blogged on 27/10/10! (Sorry,I know, very silly of me.) I have tried my best to remember what I wrote and re- posted it for your viewing. (Hopefully it still makes a bit of sense)
I recently read a post on Adun Okupe’s  blog … ( 
The post highlighted a scenario which I will summarise in the interest of simplicity. Two customers were in a store in Nigeria waiting to be served by a store assistant. Customer A was rude and abusive. Customer B was polite courteous and patient. Despite the negative traits and characteristic demonstrated by customer A the store assistant opted to serve them first. Why was this? It can be argued that customer B was regarded and deep weak and a bit daft and therefore unworthy of priority customer service. 
On being prompted by this Adun’s blog to think about a scenario similar to that of the one above I got a sudden urge to write the following;
Have Nigerians have somehow managed to distort one of the most beautiful and unchallenged characteristics of the Nigerian culture. (I use the term Nigerian culture loosely for simplicity)
What is this characteristic? The characteristic of Nigerian culture that I deem beautiful is the unfettered “Respect for Hierarchy”
Be it in the church, village, mosque, classroom, youth camp, household, government or office there is clear consensus on the supremacy of hierarchy within Nigerian society. The term seniority is evidently one of great meaning within Nigerian society. I mean, who dares to usurp their senior in Nigerian society? Is it possible to meet a Nigerian that has never had certain words spoken to them or at least heard them rained upon someone in their presence?  For example, “Is he/she your mate?” “I am talking and you are talking”, etc.
From as early as the boarding house and senior school assemblies ground days, ones rank, position and role within Nigerian society is established and clearly defined. There is a general consensus that one should know their place and be dammed if they dare to step out of line.
Arguably such clear adherence to the respect and acknowledgement of hierarchy is a positive thing, after all a lack of structure and organisation can inevitably lead to chaos and anarchy. (Yes reader, I see the irony in that sentence.)
So… what is my point? What has this respect for hierarchy got to do with poor customer service received by the majority of patient and courteous within Nigerian society?  Why so much respect for “the hierarchy” but not so much respect for the individuals within that hierarchy when in day to day interactions, situations and scenarios? Why the polite are sometimes labelled daft or perceived as weak? If you are softly spoken does that make you a mumu (moron)? Surely one does not need to raise their voice to be deemed assertive?
Perhaps it’s because some Nigerians have come to forget that strong leadership does not equate oppression. One may be feared, but that same being may not be respected. One may have power but that same person may not benefit from true loyalty. The greatest assets in life are alien to the terms naira, dollar and sterling.
Change has to start somewhere, and that place can be it in the smallest of settings. For example change can occur during the most mundane and routine tasks and interactions. The lady in the store shouts at the cashier because the cashier lets her, the cashier lets her because she needs her job and her boss will sack her, the boss will sack her because her Oga will vex if the customer complains because he needs money. Money is more important to him than the level of abuse his staff incurs on a daily basis right? What would the outcome be if the Oga had used his position to give the store boss the authority and confidence to promote a zero tolerance policy on abusive customers thus empowering the cashier to refuse service to the rude lady and opt to serve the polite customer instead? Do you think if this was the norm in the store and stores in Nigeria the rude lady would at least start to think about changing her ways? Small change, large impact!
In the pursuit of happiness the majority Nigerians have become comfortable and anti-change. The higher up the hierarchy one is the more change adverse they become. Who wants to change a system that is convenient insofar as they can keep throwing the right colour notes at it?
The concept of hierarchy in Nigeria is no longer being used as a means of establishing order. It is ironically used as a vehicle to ensure that order on a mass scale is prevented. It ensures the convenience of those at the top and the oppression of those at the bottom.
When you witness people being rude in public and their rude behaviour being rewarded in the form of them getting whatever goods or services they demand, you are witnessing the “Hierarchy Dance.”
What is the point of being so high up in the hierarchy if nobody knows? Just in case the witnesses missed the cars, houses and expensive jewellery there is just a little extra something that the misguided do. They perform the hierarchy dance.  The dance is performed to show how high up they are. People tend to do what they are allowed to do. So the question is not why they do it, the question is why are the allowed to do it?
Obviously not everybody high up in the hierarchy is misguided, due to the grace of God in their lives and it is because of this Nigeria still has hope!
So all is not lost!

Luv from

The Cyber Inscriber



Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Respect like any other value can be a good thing but when it gets to the point that some people are insulated from any criticism while others beneath them bear the brunt of their bad behaviour, you know that something has seriously gone wrong. I've wondered whether Nigeria's addiction to respect plays a huge part in preventing much needed social and political change in that country. The society is trapped in a dysfunctional and even abusive order yet people who dare to speak up against the status quo are deemed disrespectful. *Sigh*.

Again, great post. I hope you don't mind if i link to it in an upcoming post of mine. I've blogged on a related topic before and i'd like to follow that up by linking to other peoples' thoughts on the subject.

Cyber Diva said...

Thank you Culturesoup! It appreciate your comments and I’m glad that you able to comprehend my perspective on this. (Lol @ “addicted to respect”
I don’t mind you linking my post go ahead! (Thanx for asking) :-)

Cyber Diva said...


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