Egbe bere, ugo bere
Nke si ibe ya ebela
Nku kwaa ya
This is by far one of my favourite Igbo proverbs. It means:
Let the hawk perch, let the eagle perch
The one that says that his mate shouldn’t perch
May his wings be broken
In simple terms: ‘Live and let live’.
What is this you’re eating? Is this food for a human being or for a goat? Where is the meat? You’re in Nigeria o! You’re not oyibo. Don’t you know Nigerians can’t be vegetarians?
I don’t understand why a grown woman would decide to do a birthday photo shoot and surround herself with balloons and childish props. Why not act your age in the pictures you take—you’re too old for this s**t!
Why is she wearing those shoes? She has such a weird style.
This babe! We’ve never seen your real face before o! Madam Contour and Highlight! Na only you waka come!
Why are you cooking the egusi like that? That’s not how we do it my village.
Why are you having a full English breakfast at 2 in the afternoon?
How can people just decide to not have children when they are both medically fit to. That makes no sense!
You want to be a stay-at-home mum? Wow…
You want to be a career mum? Wow…
Why do they always bend their legs like that when taking pictures?
Come on…why do we make such a fuss about people doing things that don’t affect us at all—things that aren’t necessarily popular, but are not wrong? These are acts that may be peculiar to a person’s upbringing, acts that may be done to fulfil cultural or religious obligations; or, news flash, they could simply be things they do for no ‘deep’ reason at all. They do those things just because they choose to. It may be something that just makes them feel good and happy. Simple. Things don’t always have to make sense to us before someone else is allowed to do them. Maybe that girl always poses with one leg awkwardly bent because she feels she looks nicer that way. Maybe that couple doesn’t want children because they feel that’s what is best for them. It’s their life. Live yours and let them live theirs. It’s not hurting them. It’s not hurting you either and it’s not taking away from or adding anything to your life. The world is large enough to accommodate all our differences, idiosyncrasies and harmless choices.
Live and let live.
This year, I decided to make that quote one of my mantras.
There are times I see people doing things that leave me speechless but I’m learning to just look the other way if it doesn’t affect me or them negatively and can’t be classified as wrong. No matter how much I’m itching to question their choices, I don’t. I know there will definitely be things that I do, which people don’t understand. However, if what I’m doing doesn’t subtract from anyone, myself included, I hope I won’t be given any grief.
Something may be unacceptable to you, but before you get annoyed and point out the ‘inappropriateness’ of the act, ask yourself the following questions:
How is this thing affecting me sef?
Is the act wrong? A blunder? Is it hurting anyone? Is it immoral? Bad?
Is it removing a strand of hair from my head?
Is it reducing the amount of oxygen in the air that’s available to me?
Is it tampering with the price of tomatoes in the market? Ogbono is now ₦1000 per modu! Will this thing this person is doing increase or reduce the cost of ogbono?
Will it make $1 go back to being ₦140 or less?
Am I in a position in this person’s life to advise them against doing what they are doing, if at all, the act is wrong?
No? Then keep it moving. As long as no moral or social codes are being broken, biko, Uche, face your work. If the act isn’t hurting the so-called ‘offender’, you or anyone else, sing with Elsa and me, ‘Let it go, let it gooooo!’ I know it’s annoying you as you watch the person but if after answering the above questions and all your answers come up negative, just overlook it. Life is much sweeter that way. Trust me.
I feel the only times we are allowed to tell people off for doing a certain thing or acting in a particular way is when the person is clearly wrong. For instance, my skin crawls every time I see or hear ‘fuchsia’ being spelled or pronounced as ‘fisher’, ‘feechal’, ‘feeshal’, ‘fuchal’ or however else people have chosen to write or say it. I cannot live and let live in such a situation because it’s a clear error which needs to be corrected. When our leaders aren’t living up to expectations and keeping the promises they made to us, that’s not the time to live and let live. That’s the time to call them out. When a man decides he wants to see if he is as bahd as Mike Tyson and decides to put his hands on a woman to hurt her or violate her in any way—no, we certainly won’t live and let live. However:
You love sports, I prefer politics; that’s ok. But we must live and let live.
You love canned baked beans for breakfast; your cousin prefers bean pottage. Let each other be.
Your colleague’s closet is filled with only black, white and brown outfits but what he wears to work has never affected his output at the office. So, what do you do? Live and let live.
My best friend loves the colour pink. That’s no reason for me to say ‘How can you love such a colour at your age?’ What am I to do? You got it! Live and let live.
I don’t really understand the Yoruba people’s way of showing respect—kneeling down or prostrating to greet elders—but hey, it’s their culture. So instead of acting scornful, I must live and let live, right? Right.
Why do you complain that your sister listens to only Yinka Ayefele? Well, hey there Miss Bourgie. Go on with your posh self, but still, you’ve got to live and let your sister live.
There’s no need for someone who wants a grand wedding to scorn someone else who doesn’t. It’s called ‘preference’. So…live and let live.
You always pout in your pictures…kai, it’s difficult for me to preach ‘live and let live’ on this one. Ladies, you look so beautiful and regal when you smile WITH TEETH, but because I must practice what I preach, I guess I have to pretend it doesn’t make me sad when you choose to pout instead. *dramatic sigh*
Can we please just leave people to do what they need to do to make themselves happy? Can we learn to let others live their lives as they let us live ours, especially if no moral or social rules are being broken? Life is way too short to consistently sweat the small stuff. For real, for real.
Live and let live.