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Ooops…the dog ate my manners

Posted by Administrator on November 14, 2011

By Ciku Kimani

We stood in awe. Random strangers standing on either side of the streets, all eyes on the taxi driver who stopped long enough to let the old man and his walking stick snail-pace across the unusually traffic-clear street.

Shocked, we forgot to cross the road ourselves, but we were probably afraid the sane taxi driver might regain his insanity and step on it, killing everyone in his way.

Well, he did not regain his “insanity” as he continued to shock us further by beckoning everyone to cross the road, and that was when we all looked at each other in shock.

First, he was a taxi driver and we expect his road etiquette to be as good as that of a matatu driver, which is not saying much.

Second, the lights were green for him, he had right of way, yet he chose to let a frail old man cross the road without hooting and then, to add that, he let everyone else pass. What was wrong with the scene?

Well, ideally, nothing, but we are now living in a world where bad manners are the norm — we are shocked when people behave well.

When we were children and “children’s rights” was a phrase only used in the West, we did not realise that we had any rights.

We got education, food, clothes, and shelter — everything else was a privilege. Questioning a parent was unheard of. Who even thought of that?

Our relationship with elders was clear black-and-white — they spoke, we listened. We did not negotiate.

While this was a little militant, I would rather have the good old days of knowing that I would get the cane if I did not sweep the compound.

A child today would argue that it is child labour, an infringement of his rights, while in actual sense it is being taught the value of work.

Somewhere on the path of evolution, we have been brainwashed (brainwasher still unidentified) into believing that having good manners is not cool.

We have been made to believe that helping that blind person cross the street is a sign of weakness while, indeed, it is the humane thing to do.

That letting a pregnant woman cut the queue is spoiling her while, indeed again, it is the civilised thing to do.

When walking our crowded streets and you accidentally step on someone’s toes or bump into them, do you glare at them daringly or do you politely say “sorry” or “excuse me” and move on?

If you do the former, you are laced with bad manners and you do not take responsibility for your actions. Saying “sorry” does not make you weak; it just saves everyone time and agitation.

When it is raining and you, being four feet tall, carry an umbrella without the slightest care of whose eyes you poke, do you think you are being cool, that to hell with anyone who does not have an umbrella?

I hate to break it to you, but you give the impression of a foul-mannered person who is probably angry with everybody who is taller than you.

When you splash dirty water on pedestrians or drive fast on a dusty road without the slightest consideration of anyone who is not riding in the car with you, you are a classic candidate of a bad-mannered driver and everybody assumes that you have borrowed the car just for that day and that your intention is to have everyone notice that you are driving; you a bad mannered show-off. Sounds bad, huh?

I blame the rat race that seems to have swallowed us all. We are always in such a hurry to get somewhere that we forget to be good to each other.

We have allowed the pressures of life get to us, leaving us all angry and with no space for niceties towards fellow humans. But how about “do unto others as you would like done to you?”



2 Responses to “Ooops…the dog ate my manners”

  1. Muria Indo said

    So true! Nowadays good manners are considered “stupid”. However, western culture is different from Kenya. For instance, in U.S. pedestrians have the right of way n every driver is expected to stop for them whether there’s a zebra crossing or not. Other States, some stores allocates convenient parking lots to among others pregnant women and those with babies! So much stress in Kenya, no time for such manners!! Good article though!

    • Kangemi said

      I am frequently in Kenya and you should see people’s faces when I wave them through. However, driving has become extremely dangerous in crowded places. There are crooks who have mastered the art of jumping into the road and get “slightly injured” to cash out on you, otherwise your life and car could be in danger. One incident in Kawangware in 2009 sent me right back to matatus when I need to go to very crowded places. Pedestrians and drivers-no one has manners.
      What amazes me, you will see people acting like gentlemen and ladies in respectable company only to turn to maniacs when they hit the road!

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