Kneel and Ask Forgiveness?

By Vic Odarve

Uniquely African practice!  Kneeling and asking forgiveness for violations or mistakes is a common practice among college students.

It was a final examination day in Mathematics! Amid a hot and crowded exam room, I saw two students copying answers with each other. Without warning, I confiscated their papers. Then they knelt before me and said,” Sir, we are sorry”.

Engineering students

Engineering students

 I have not yet decided on what punishment would I take, but they were there kneeling before you! Then I told them,”Stand up, do not kneel before me, stand in front of the class until I tell you to sit down”.

I was caught by surprise as I have not experienced students kneeling before me for several years of teaching in university/college in our native soil. But this is an African country! They have their own way of practice.

In most parts of the world, it is one of the customs to kneel to a person who is older or in authority as a sign of respect. Kneeling is often associated with reverence or submission. In religion, kneeling is associated with worshiping. It is an expression of submitting yourself to the Almighty.

 But college students are kneeling here! Students kneeling before the teachers are  a common sight in African colleges and universities, according to one of my colleagues, an African lecturer. This could be the practice since time immemorial as this continent was once ruled by kings and queens who were revered like God by the constituents. These constituents are kneeling before them for some reasons.

Final Exam

Final Exam

 Perhaps there are no other more profound forms of pleading or asking forgiveness or help from a person in authority than kneeling. When you see college students kneeling before a teacher and pleading for forgiveness for the mistakes they committed, the teacher simply cannot ignore. We have to balance our assertiveness in exercising our authority in the classroom at the same time being approachable. That is establishing a limit, a boundary or red lines!

  Even Jesus, seeing a woman kneeling before him, did not simply ignore since he sees the action comes truly from her heart. Read the  Matthew 15;22-28;

 22 Now a Canaanite woman came from those borders and began to cry out, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on me! My daughter is tormented by a demon.”

23 But Jesus did not answer her, not even a word. So his disciples approached him and said, “Send her away: see how she is shouting after us.”

24 Then Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the nation of Israel.”

25 But the woman was already kneeling before Jesus and said, “Sir, help me!”

26 Jesus answered, “It is not right to take the bread from the children and throw it to the little dogs.”

 27 The woman replied, “It is true, sir, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said, “Woman, how great is your faith! Let it be as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

Madonna University,Nigeria,Africa

Madonna University,Nigeria,Africa

 Are these college students using kneeling as a smart way of admitting the mistakes and needing immediate forgiveness? Does kneeling, an action asking forgiveness or reverence, come true from their hearts? Are these new generations of college students redefined kneeling on their favor? Nobody knows!

Kneeling and asking forgiveness… its African way of life.

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