The Zambian culture is very complex and diverse. With over 70 different tribes in one country, you learn living here that each one is similar yet different. However, greetings play a big role in every single one. Conversations are never rushed and there are countless ways to say “hello.”
One thing I love is the handshake. Zambians have a specific handshake that they greet each other with. It’s kind of like being in a secret club. If you don’t know it, you quickly fumble through, wondering “what the heck just happened?”
I’m going to try my best to explain the handshake so that you too will be in our ‘secret club.’ You start out with a normal handshake, with your opposite hand holding the elbow of your shaking hand. This is a sign of respect, so if you’re sharing hands with someone important (a village leader for example) then you must do this. Adding a little dip of a bow is bonus points!
As you shake hands, the first step is the normal shake. Then you quickly switch to clasp the base of each other’s thumbs, and back to a normal handshake again. It’s kind of confusing to explain in writing but I’m sure you get the idea. Right?
So here you are, shaking hands with the members of your bible study that meets in the middle of nowhere, underneath the only available shade tree in the area. You’re part of a secret club that you never expect to find yourself in. And it’s absolutely beautiful!