Allow me to explain ...
In many African countries - as in other parts of the world - it is culturally appropriate to give titles to the older generation. So, I've become the honorary aunt of two girls aged 5 and 7, a young man in his 30s and to Nurudeen (more about him to come later). When I speak with them it's customary for them to address me as "Auntie Zelpher".
At my first meeting with Nurudeen when he was 13 and I was volunteering as a teacher in Ghana, he called me "Madam". Subsequently he has used "Auntie". However, he has recently begun to call me "mother" or "Momma". I've let him know that "Auntie" is fine but he has respectfully stood his ground. This is why the change of title has occurred ...
Taken from the Travelling Sociologist website:
In Ghanaian society, respect for elders is very much ingrained into all social interactions within families, among relatives, between strangers or anyone older than you. They are to be treated with deference - the older they are, the more deference that is necessary.
You must be the first to greet them (and greet them, you must); you must offer your assistance in any way you can; you must run errands for them; you must serve them first; you must call them Madam or Sir (never ever by their first name), or Daddy, or Auntie, or Brother (even if they are not related to you) in decreasing order of how much older than you they are, out of respect.
You must always begin your sentences with “please.” For example, a Ghanaian might say to an old lady carrying a heavy bag: “Please, Ma, let me help you;” to an older man entering their place of business, “Good afternoon, Uncle, please how may I help you?;” or to an older sister who has asked for her car to be cleaned (for it is traditional for older relatives and strangers to summon younger ones and send them on errands at will), “Please, Sister Julie, I am coming!”
For this reason, Ghanaians abroad are understandably uncomfortable calling professors, employers, and co-workers by first name, as is common practice in places like North America. They are likely to insist on adding a title such as Mr., Mrs., Sir, or Madam in these circumstances.
Ghanaians are also the most likely to jump up and offer their seat to older passengers taking public transportation, and to greet people (a respectful acknowledgment of their existence) with a cheery “Good morning” or “Good evening,” despite city cultures or office cultures where ignoring strangers and co-workers is the norm.
I'm old!! There's nothing like a jolt such as this when you're forced to acknowledge being middle-aged!! This example of Ghanaian culture is very endearing and inbuilt into all of its children. Reluctantly I will accept this culturally appropriate norm and forgive him for making me feel ancient!! In complete contrast I'm sometimes the "child" and in Nurudeen's position, despite my advancing years. I address and refer to all of my mum's friends "Mr." and "Mrs." even though I've known them for more than three decades!! 💙
Nurudeen has such a lovely supportive family, I'm honoured to share this ultimate act of respect with the awesome woman who brought him into the world.
I'm so proud of him. He's 16 years old and three years ago told me he wanted his education to be better. As a teacher of 30 years, I couldn't ignore this. So with help from someone in his village, the marvellous Ibrahim, I secured him a school place.
Shy and not at all worldly wise, he attended for the first time in May 2022 when I funded a scholarship for him to attend Modern Preparatory School, a boarding school in the Savannah Region. I'll continue to support his education for the next 7 years for him to qualify as a teacher; he's said I've inspired him to aim for this. 💙
I spoke with him yesterday. He told me how much he is enjoying school, he loves English and art and has made lots of friends. He tells me that he'd like to study art when he moves to the next stage of his education in two years time; I'm pleased to know that he is creative as well as academic.
His headteacher tells me he's very committed to everything he does and has taken his education very seriously from day one!! He's pretty good on the football pitch too. Mr. Nana said: "Every body is happy of his progress so far. We pray he doesn't change. All thanks to you for your assistance, he always gets what he needs and this has helped him going higher. We promise to do our best we can to assist him as well." I can't ask for more.
His confidence has grown considerably in comparison to the time I first spoke with him and his English vocabulary has progressed immensely. He said the food at school is really bad and there are mosquitos in his dorm, but he assures me he's really happy!!
He said he's going to pray for me to send another child to school this year. I'd love for a girl from his village to have the opportunity to attend school too. If you'd like to make a donation and play a part in Nurudeen's future or another child in Larabanga, please message me and I'll send you the details. Or you can contribute for FREE through easyfundraising; the information you need is here:
https://www.aluna-abc.co.uk/newsletter-16 ... and please share this blog post widely with your contacts!! 💙
A big shout out to one of my business buddies on LinkedIn for her £100 donation this week. Thank you so much Cheryl!!