"Elders are repositories of tribal knowledge and life experience, essential resources for the survival of the village, anchoring it firmly to the living foundation of tradition. The old and the elder are the most revered members of the village community and its greatest preservers and nurturers. It is natural that everyone should be attracted by age, to becoming old.

"The elder is as important to the community as the newborn, in that they both share a proximity with the Other World, the ancestors' world. The newborn just arrived from there, and the old one, the elder, is preparing to go there. The very young and the very old complement each other because they draw from one another. The very old honor youth as the source of collective physical stability and strength and as recent arrivals to this world, who are more closely connected to the ancestors. Because of the unique relationship of the very young and the very old, among the Dagara, the Lobi, the Fon, and many other communities in West Africa, you will sometimes hear an elder calling a child "Grandpa" or "Grandma." The elder is showing deep respect for the young one, attributing the benefits of age to that young person."