Monday, September 17, 2007

Holding Hands

Since that day we spent at the Lusaka airport, I've been noticing another one of those cultural differences between the Zambian people and Americans. Zambians hold hands.

It was common all around us. The girls in uniform would be walking through the airport, hand in hand. Chance-met businessmen greeting and talking to each other at the airport would hold hands. Simple handshakes were more elaborate and often wouldn't end for a moment or two. The only thing I didn't see was a man and a woman holding hands.

When I shook hands with Mr. Chanter at his lodge, I fumbled the handshake and he explained the Zambian handshake to me: Start with a standard handshake, release with the thumbs still locked and briefly hold the top edge of the other's hand, and then slide back into the standard grip.

That information came in handy as I began meeting all the friendly people on the mission and in the bush villages we have visited. The only time I've had a Zambian stick to a simple American handshake is in places where they're used to novice travelers. Out at the Kasibi church on Sunday, the worship service ended with an expanding reception line, where everyone shook everyone else's hands. A half-dozen of the Zambians used an American handshake, but I was pleased to note that the young men of the Harding students there seemed quite adapted to the Zambian handshake.

No comments: