Good manners create goodwill

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What you need to know:

  • One of my biggest lessons from the World Cup this year is the way the Japanese well-earned reputation for manners and politeness.

What if Taifa Stars, our national football team, had qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? Sweet wishes, our football-crazy nation would have gone gaga! One day, it will happen, so long as more concerted efforts are put into developing the game for children and youth.

For now, we have to watch other nations from other parts of the world as they play. ‘My winners’ for the World Cup 2022 are the Japan team off the pitch, not because they beat the highly famed Germany 2-1, but special thanks to their fans!

The Japanese fans have won tremendous goodwill after the media noted that they cleaned up a stadium after a contest in which their team did not compete (an opening game between Qatar and Ecuador).

The fans picked up bottles and food wrapping left in the seats and placed them into the dustbins.

After a win over Germany, the media reported that Japanese players left their dressing rooms spotlessly clean, even as their fans swept litter in the stand. Other teams would have celebrated widely and left workers to clean up their mess.

Japanese players and fans have reminded the world of the importance of common decency, including good manners. Behaving well and doing the right thing in a world full of indecency means a lot.

The world is full of people with hardly any manners to talk about. “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any,” wrote Fred Astaire, the American author of Steps in Time.

In the good old day, younger people would offer their seats to the elderly while inside public means of transport. Today it happens; it is the exception and not the norm. Bad manners have become a way of life. On our roads, you can see someone driving the most expensive car but throwing out garbage including bottles through the car window onto the street.

There are house owners in our city of Dar es Salaam who wait for the rains to release sewage water from their sewer manholes.

You park your car at public parking once in a while, so we’ll, only for another motorist to block you. When you want to take your leave, you must wait for them for hours. And there is no apology for the deliberate wrong act, the guy sometimes to it up by hurling abuses at you!

Look at public toilets in many places in Dar es Salaam. Well-cleaned ones are the exception instead of the norm. Why should someone not leave the toilet clean after use in a place with adequate water?

Why are there so many people bad-mannered and lacking basic decency? Is it upbringing? Is it cultural or environmental? There are multiple factors, but no matter the cause for that, bad manners tend to irritate and sometimes are outright harmful to others or illegal. We must watch our ways to ensure we don’t inconvenience others or break the law.

One of my biggest lessons from the World Cup this year is the way the Japanese well-earned reputation for manners and politeness. I have also learned about their “omotenashi,” often translated as “hospitality,” which is a crucial idea that guides Japanese etiquette. It refers to the trait of being careful and thoughtful of others in a way that enables the host to foresee the needs of their visitors or clients and make adjustments as necessary.

Manner and being polite are national values to them.

In traditional African society, respect for the elders was among the universal values. Even that one is fast fading. Since independence, peace, unity, and solidarity have been core national values of our development, maybe we should add hard work and good manners as well.