Our Zambian traditions and culture, in general, encourage young people to respect elders’ advice. This can be seen from the proverbs expressed in various tribes. In addition, our Christian values also promote respect for elders. The Bemba say, “Akanwa ka mwefu takabepa” (the bearded mouth does not lie). Elders speak the truth, for they speak from experience. Therefore their words ideally must be taken seriously. It is incumbent for the elders also to carry themselves respectfully for them to earn respect; nevertheless, this is not the condition that should guide young people to respect elders.

The Chewas emphasise respect for elders through the proverb, “Mau a akulu akoma akogonera.” One should follow the elders’ advice, even if one fails to see any wisdom in it for the moment. It is only later on that one will see the wisdom in their advice.

In addition, Tongas say, “Mupati usiigwa kuluno ku maano tomusiyi.” (An elder is outpaced in the running but not in wisdom). Respect and pay heed to the advice and counsel of elders. They are wiser than you. You may be able to outperform them in terms of physical strength and running speed, but you will fall short in terms of wisdom and experience.

The Bible says, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2″Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20.

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