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Our infatuation with big titles

By Dennis Chewlae Jah          dennis_jah

Whenever we call the name of a top official or some important figure, we seem obliged to attach a job title or some other title like “Honorable” that the usual titles of respect (Mr. Ms. or Mrs.) have been devalued or lost except for the small potatoes. As part of our African culture, we address people respectfully especially elders and those in authority.
But I think we are pushing it too far now by thinking that using the titles Mr. Miss, and Mrs. are somehow a show of disrespect to “big” people. We always seem to be trying our hardest to fetch some gigantic titles for anyone who has been given a job or has made any little achievement among us. Whether the attempt is to flatter them, adore them or make ourselves feel sophisticated, I don’t know. What ever the motivation, these titles are getting to the brains and stomachs of all of us.
I have serious reservations when these kinds of flashy titles are used all the time even in informal discussions. For example, why address Mr. George Weah by his ceremonial title of ‘goodwill ambassador’ all the time? Even if he were a real ambassador, what is disrespectful by calling him Mr. George Weah instead? Even our pastors have outgrown their Reverend titles and are now called Bishops this, Prophet this, or Apostle that.
Honorable this or that for government and other officials, his/her Excellency and all the other fluffy titles are only our way of being overly obedient and setting our leaders so high up that we can’t even get where they are. That is my guess. The way we address people guides our relationship with them and directs what we can or cannot say to them.
No wonder why most university professors in the United States like to be called by their first names so as to ease the pressure on their students to ask them all kinds of questions. I am not suggesting that we call our officials by their first names but when we give our officials and VIPs these almighty titles, we put them in a position of infallibility, power and glory where the best we can do to honor such title is to bow down and worship.
Dennis Chewlae Jah is an Atlanta-based blogger. He can be reached at http://dennisjah.blogspot.com.

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