EastMeetsWest || To Kneel or Not to Kneel?
I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, but I am an #IgboBrideYorubaWife. It may be helpful to read this post here for a bit of background.
For those who do not know, Yoruba culture expects girls to kneel down to greet their elders. Boys are expected to prostrate with arms outstretched in front of them.
Some elders are flexible, and along with a bit of modernisation girls are often permitted to do a sort of mini squat or genuflection with just one knee hitting or almost hitting the ground. The guys may simply touch their feet with their hands whilst bending over and often have one leg hanging in the air kind of.
That is Yoruba culture. Yoruba people still greet in this manner when speaking on the phone and cannot see you physically. I Joke. Not really, I'm serious.
So, why could kneeling be an issue especially in a marriage where the girl is Igbo?
My experience? I honestly did not understand why this could/should be an issue. I grew up not kneeling. I grew up giving handshakes, side hugs and full hugs. Igbo people typically do not kneel.
So, I thought "Surely y'all must understand that I can't impulsively learn to kneel at this my old age". I did (not) consciously fight it... but I needed some form of understanding. Why is this compulsory? I think at some point Tee said "Why do you kneel at Church and why did you kneel to receive your Cambridge LL.M degree and why do we have to go to Nnewi for Igba Nkwu?" (Igba Nkwu is Igbo traditional rite of marriage. Literally means Wine Carrying - the high point of the ceremony where the bride finds her groom, KNEELS and offers him a glass of palmwine. Usually celebrated in the girl's village).
I kind of got his point. But I'm very critical and overly analytical. I'm thinking "Kneeling at Church isn’t compulsory (Okay in a Catholic Church it almost is. We literally kneel every other second. Kneel. Stand. Sit. Kneel. Stand. Sit) and my LL.M degree, are you kidding me? I'll have laid flat on the floor to have all that Latin incantation said over me just so I can have that degree)... And Igba Nkwu is a one off event. If they gathered all the Yoruba elders I'll ever have to kneel for into a room and make me kneel for one day once and for all, I'll take that of course"
Ok. Jokes aside. Girls, I'll be lying if I tell you that there's a way around this. It's Culture. And no, I do not think it's that kind of anachronistic culture.
I'm convinced the side of my brain that deals with balance, co-ordination and direction is just only 99% developed. The 1% missing is why I can't dance, why I sometimes trip while walking and why I have no sense of direction.
So, having come to terms with my fate, almost every time I tried to kneel (the quick genuflect that is) I ended up falling down. Needless to say it was often kind of awkward. I'm still learning!
If you are as stiff as I am then here's an idea that might work. Whenever you see that 'big aunty' coming , you run along and give her a big tight hug squeezing so hard she can hardly breathe, at the same time singing her praises. i.e "Aunty I missed you so much" "Aunty you are glowing!". And just like that you may have escaped kneeling! This is only an option of course if you'd rather hug than kneel.
For the Aunties you'd rather not hug or those that insist on a kneel, please save your relationship/marriage. Those aunties do not play! Do a quick kneel and go back to your Yummy Yoruba Boo!
On a more serious note though, it really is like a half a second gesture. Your knees are not going to remain on the floor. If people expect this, then let's make an effort to try. Moreso, if every other thing in your relationship is fine, how will you feel saying 'oh we broke up, because I couldn't kneel to greet his Mom!'
That said, Yoruba peeps, when we fail or forget, don't be secretly convinced in your mind that we have no home training. We, the original non kneeling babes are not being proud or disrespectful. As the Igbo people say, "you cannot learn to write with the left hand in your old age."
Please share your thoughts. Are you a Kneeler? Have you had any experience with Kneeling? Guys if your non-kneeling babe has an issue with kneeling how will you handle this?
KacheeTee … Xx
pS: I once knelt down to greet one 'big aunty' she dipped her hand in her bag and gave me a wad of cash! Why aren't they all like this?
ppS: I just looked through the photos and realised I still didn't kneel at the Igba Nkwu. See, it really wasn't in my nature...