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”
No personal cameras allowed at the ‘Cambridge Kneeling’.. You purchase this official picture if you need it.
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…
KikyFebruary 18, 2016 at 13:23
Hahaha. It’s a serious thing in Yoruba culture o. They don’t joke.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 18, 2016 at 15:32
Yeah, but I think people are not overly fussy anymore. My Yoruba friend just pinged me saying she only does the half kneel oh, and she can’t blacken her knees for anyone so I better not start something I won’t finish! Lmao
ValValFebruary 18, 2016 at 20:42
Hehehe… Jst discovered dis blog from my friend on FB. Interesting read! I think we as Nigerians take culture too seriously. For both the ‘kneeling forcer’ and non-kneeler, kneeling is petty! My opinion is to appreciate people’s culture and conform if need be- don’t be a trouble maker! And I’m half Igbo and Yoruba btw.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:47
This comment made my day. You have no idea. Thank you for taking time out to comment. As per taking culture too seriously, I feel like because it is our identity, sometimes we have to hold fast to these things. See countries like China, that are very cultural, yet dominating the world. Yay! for Half Igbo and Yoruba, I think that’s just an amazing combo. Thinking of writing a post on growing up in an inter-ethnic home. Will be great to hear what you think. Is it okay to email you?
'DemolaFebruary 18, 2016 at 21:18
*Makes mental note to demand my rightful full kneel*
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:44
I’ll remind you when we see!
'Fisayo SoyomboFebruary 18, 2016 at 22:01
Kachi can write sha. VERY WELL!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:43
Fisayo!! Coming from you….. That absolutely means so much to me. Thank You!!
Tomide AweFebruary 18, 2016 at 22:27
Loool, I’m Yoruba and I can’t stand the kneeling culture… I either run away from the Aunties that require it or give them bad eye so they can comport (they already know i’m rebellious anyway)(P.s…well done on your posts… interesting reads :))
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:43
Awww. Thanks Tomide. I really appreciate. Hahahaha. I can’t afford to be over rebellious.
Ayeni AnthonyFebruary 19, 2016 at 00:06
Nice write up educate them!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:42
Lol! Thanks. hopefully we an all learn a thing or two…
Bagos MutendiFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:08
My dear…. Those folks taught me how to kneel in UI by force if not you couldn’t submit even a course registration form! Lovely read as always.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 19, 2016 at 13:41
Actually that’s true! They expect some kind of mini -genuflection, such that we even started doing that for non-Yorubas. Lol.. Thanks for always stopping by! Xx
Bagos MutendiMarch 3, 2016 at 07:40
You are always welcome. Jokes apart, have always respected you from afar…
Jide AdeyefaFebruary 19, 2016 at 16:47
Lovely writing, long lost dot. I enjoyed this more than I expected! You haven’t knelt down for me yet though! Funny thing is even my Yoruba ex had a “kneeling problem” too!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 20, 2016 at 23:14
Long Lost Pa!! Thanks for reading. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I guess we are the younger generation are ‘rebelling’..
'femi AkeFebruary 20, 2016 at 10:41
Very good piece Kachi! I’m 35 and still prostrate for my Dad and In-Laws. Yorubas attach a lot of sentiment to greetings, be it worthy or not. As long as the culture requires doing so, I also recommend it’s done just so to let peace reign. God bless your marriage and regards to Tola!
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 20, 2016 at 23:15
Thank you so much Femi. He sends his regards…I think it’s best to respect the culture and keep the peace…
BababiFebruary 21, 2016 at 07:26
Looooool. Pele ehn Kachee. I’m yoruba, but my yoruba family really doesn’t fuss over kneeling. Infact all my life I’ve only ever kneeled for my grandma and that’s cos most times I meet her sitting so I kinda kneel-hug her. Lol. But that’s my family.However, whenever I visit other yoruba families, I do the full kneel to the ground because I know it’s a “yoruba” thing and I won’t give anyone the opportunity to insult me or my parents that we’re “uncultured” yoruba people.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 21, 2016 at 17:11
I know the kneel hug you mean!. lol. Exactly people often think you are ‘uncultured’ when you dont kneel. Oh well! Thanks for your comment. I appreciate. Xx
Olunu Ireti AdeoluwaFebruary 22, 2016 at 03:47
Lool kachee,the first thing that came to my mind when I saw u married a yoruba guy was mehn how did she cope wit kneeling and yoruba greeting .im on the flip side of the coin and my in laws to be think I’m so respectful where as it’s just natural for me* *winks*
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 22, 2016 at 17:32
Whoop Whoop!! You’re coming over to the Eastern side?. I can imagine. My mom often thinks all my Yoruba friends are super-respectful.
Ifiok EsangFebruary 24, 2016 at 16:21
I guess the gym needs me back then, as it appears I’ll be touching my toes quite a lot…
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 24, 2016 at 16:24
Ifiok!!! Hahahahaaaa. I’m sure you’re well in shape for that… Thanks for dropping by, such a pleasant surprise. Xx
KIKELOMO OMOTALADEFebruary 25, 2016 at 10:52
Wishing you a blissful union…..i am guessing you won’t have to kneel alot anyways since you are not in this zones where you might have alot of your inlaws……xx
Kachee || KacheeTee.comFebruary 25, 2016 at 11:57
Thanks Hun! It’s almost two years now, I can’t believe it. I actually haven’t has to kneel a lot. But getting set to visit Nigeria so I’m prepping my knees. Lol! I spot your Xx!
NedouxMarch 7, 2016 at 10:12
Hahaha!I’d happily spend the day on my knees (no need to stand up for breaks) if I’m surrounded by the dipping-hand-into-bag-of-cash Aunties. :-)I went to boarding school in Western Nigeria and some of the culture rubbed off on me, so I do the mid-way kneeling motion when greeting elders. My knees don’t reach the ground though.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comMarch 7, 2016 at 11:12
I know right! Too bad those Aunties are rare. I went to school in the West as well (Queens College Yaba) but kneeling wasn’t so common till I got to Uni in Ibadan.
God's ❤June 11, 2016 at 15:33
Lmao! Ui made my knees scald as a “proud n disrespectful” igbo girl…Some of peeps had me kneel to just watch how long I had stay there….It just wasn’t coming.Worst experience was when I was being abused, shamed et al….during one class… the secretary ran to my rescue oo by kneeling and pulling me down to kneel beside her …Heen! I thought twas a joke oo. ..I just gave her the look like “Auntie iya is bun mi (abusing me)…you want me to kneel for these too?” …lol. I had no idea that no matter the situation…We are to kneel whether being praised or sanctioned…Please I still need to know.Now the impromptu mid-air genuflection has taken root….to avoid being a bad child n need to heal my knees. #culturerelativityiskey #saveslife …You’ve done well KT.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comJune 14, 2016 at 17:03
The mid air genuflection is a life saver! Your experience in UI sounds so familiar. Thanks for your comment love! xx
Arrey EchiJuly 14, 2016 at 10:17
Very interesting read and so on point on several stances. The culture shock is always something one has to deal with tact. I have never really understood the kneeling even when I watch in Nigerian movies now I get a clue. My sister schooled in Ibadan and she just now unconciously do the half kneel to any elder person. Another sister has inter ethnic marriage and they have been waxing strong for more than 30yrs. I refer to their kids as African metissages :)Really enjoy your posts. Will be a regular now. Wish you a very happy married life.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comJuly 14, 2016 at 10:20
A lot of tact is indeed needed. Schooling in Ibadan def does that to someone! 30 years and waxing strong! That’s awesome. Thank you so much Arrey! This means so much to me! Thank you.
Oyindamola AbbattyAugust 19, 2016 at 12:25
Hi Kachi, I’ve been spying you on Cassie’s blog for a while, you’re always in her comments, like her number one fan sef. So I decided to check you out and boy, do I not regret not checking you out since. I can’t believe you only started six months ago. You have a way of drawing people in to read and then engaging them in the comments. This is something I work towards, in short you inspire me (geez I sound like a butt kisser).Anyways, to the issue at hand, I know this post is old but I couldn’t help commenting as I’m a Yoruba girl myself and yes, you were right Yoruba people (most of them) are convinced that Igbo people have no home training. Home training is very important to us Yorubas, especially in marriage; even elders you don’t know require you to kneel while greeting them.Even as a Yoruba girl, I’ve sometimes been called rude or snobbish cos I greet without smiling. So not only do you have to kneel you have to do so with cheerfulness (even fake smiles will do). This affected me while growing as I couldn’t greet anyone (even our gateman) without kneeling or stooping a bit, I had to correct myself as I grew older. So, this is what I’ve learnt so far; great post and thanks for sharing. (Sorry for the long comment)
Kachee || KacheeTee.comAugust 19, 2016 at 12:39
I LOVE Long comments (and when they are on old posts, even better!). Cassie inspires me plus I just love to tease her! I also interviewed her here: http://www.kacheetee.com/we…Thank you SO much for checking me out! loool. Don’t worry you don’t sound like a butt kisser at all! What’s life without drawing inspiration from people?I agree with you. The difference in culture is quite something! But I’m getting used to it, and I try to explain to Yorubas the culture difference so they are not shocked when we don’t kneel. Thank you more for commenting!
ValerieOctober 4, 2016 at 15:31
It used to be such a deal to me, being a Calabar girl. Like why will anyone ask me to kneel down, when it is not my culture. But abeg, I know now that kneeling down will not kill me or take anything from my body. I will kneel down for all of them if that is what they want.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comNovember 4, 2016 at 12:21
This is so true! It won’t kill us and if it’ll make them happier, then it’s worth a try. Thanks for sharing!
George freeman GeorgeAugust 29, 2020 at 13:07
Haaaha..but this is against your will.it is forced humility.
And it is.cultural imperialism if you are not from that culture.
MemkohOctober 17, 2016 at 16:32
Hahahahaha! Kachee you had me rolling at the Latin incantation for your degree part. Boy, after those late nights and coffee cups, kneeling will definitely not be an issue. I also like how you raised this issue as I have a friend who recently had to learn how to kneel before meeting her future in-laws. I think the Yoruba culture is a bit too frigid for this (cue women like yourself toppling over or worst case, wearing a white outfit and having to kneel down to greet some stranger or in-law sef). Honestly, are they really going to tell their son to un-marry you because of that? At the same time, it’s culture like you said, so one must just try and hope those aunties with wads of cash will reward your small one-time effort. I wish I knew cultures of other tribes that Yorubas find difficult to adopt, to show them that it is truly a two-way street and they can’t be buying in / judging people by their stiff ways.
LynnVilleNovember 28, 2016 at 21:31
hahahahaha this made me laugh. You’re so funny, you didn’t even kneel to give him the palmwine. Yorubas are very cultural so if kneeling is what it takes to make boo’s parents, aunties, uncles happy…then why not. But that plan on hugging, I think I’ll rather go with it. Lovely write up, I’m hooked.
DeraDecember 7, 2016 at 17:33
Lol. I am loving your blog and I am using it as a guideline for my upcoming life.. you see I am currently engaged to my own Yoruba boo who also appears to be Tee.. this kneeling thing has been an issue for me o. Well I am taking it one day at a time and loving every bit of it
ladyromfordJuly 20, 2017 at 08:03
My husband is igbo my best friend is yoruba I am Idoma. We do not kneel to greet where I am from either we are more a “hand shake and hug” people too but to let peace reign when I go to my best friends house I kneel to greet her folks.On my wedding day my best friend almost fainted when I did not kneel to greet my in-laws when i had my first outing I had to explain that it wasn’t a requirement for them or us and that it was not seen as disrespectful loool!!!. But for some reason my uncle made my hubby prostrate sha…. LOL u gotta love the collision of traditions.
IdyOctober 26, 2017 at 22:14
I got posted to Ibadan for my youth service and sometime before I passed out, boom, boyfriend. A few months later we were engaged. Wedding is in six weeks. Being an Akwa Ibom girl, I’d lived in the South South all my life. My knees had never touched ground saving for prayers and when they used to give us mass punishment in secondary school. So I felt it was only to God I owed this sacred act of kneeling to the ground, you know? But as God would have it, turns out I also owed it to my in-laws(and they are innumerable), and pretty much the Southwest as a whole. I used to do the mid-air genuflection thingy. Still do, in fact. But one day after greeting fiancé’s mom in that manner she told me ‘Oya kneel down’. She’s a wonderful woman, so I needed no telling twice! So I went on both knees. First time ever. Got up, went to his dad, both knees again. Since then, I find it’s become easier and easier. Haven’t seen them in a while? I kneel down and greet. They shower me with gifts? I kneel down and greet. Just returned from a trip? I kneel down and greet. The whole extended family comes to Uyo for my introduction? I kneel down and greet, and shock my own family members in the process. To my Yoruba friends whom prostrating does not seem that much of a big deal, for those of us who were raised up culturally different, it’s a major life change. If we get round to doing it, no matter how awkward or grudging it may look, take it that we love and respect you, and we want peace to reign.