WiZ: When in Zambia… (4)

… greetings are very important.

Shake and soft clap 2

There are countless greetings for every time of the day: early morning, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night, late night. And greetings just aren’t limited to the time of day, either. There’s just about a greeting for every action here in Zambia. If you’re working, there’s a greeting for it. Studying? There’s a greeting for that. Eating a mango? Greet away. Sitting around doing absolutely nothing? We’ve got a greeting for that, as well. Greetings are particularly important when addressing an elder or someone of high status, like a Chief, Senior Headman, or Headman. But, wait, there’s more!

Here in Northwestern Province, we’ve got hand gestures to go along with all those greetings! When greeting someone, you should shake that person’s hand, clap twice, and shake their hand a second time. If you are greeting an elder or someone of high status, a drop of one’s knee should be added to the shake-double clap-shake combo. And accompanying the dropped knee and the shake-double clap-shake, you should support your shaking hand with your other free hand, grasped firmly on your forearm.

When riding a bicycle and passing someone, you should greet them with the appropriate greeting for that time of day, while placing your right hand over your heart. And if you are passing an elder or someone of high status while riding a bicycle, you should get off your bicycle and greet them the way you would greet an elder, as previously described.

And I’ve saved the best for last, folks. When greeting a Paramount Chief or Chief of Chiefs, you’ll find yourself getting down on all fours, laying down, feet pointing away from the Paramount Chief or Chief of Chiefs, and rolling back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Just like nap time!

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