Africans are culturally inclined people, they take very serious measure of value to how people greet each other often and have over the years attached so much importance to greetings and this culture has been transferred to generation of Africans over thousands of years and will be there if not forever.
These greetings comes in different forms and patterns, from tribe to tribe as the case maybe, it also has dos and donts attached to them.
A non-African will be thrilled to see what an uncommon but rich cultural values Africans have about greetings.
In south Africa, It is important to greet everyone respectfully and immediately upon seeing them. The most common form of greeting is handshake accompanied with eye contact with each other. Handshake may be lighter or firm depending on the person you are greeting.
In rural communities, people may use two hands to shake especially when having a handshake with someone elderly, and when it involves shaking hands with opposite gender, men are expected to wait for ladies to extend hands first before they could have a handshake with a woman.
Hugs happen only between those who know each other very well. It’s also polite to address people by their tittles and last names until they personally tell you to call them by their first name.
Farsighted form of greetings are welcomed in Elmina tribe in Ghana.
In Zambia, men for instance are not expected to shake hands with their mother in-laws, likewise the women when it involves their father in-laws.
At places where elders are seated, younger ones are expected that they must kneel down at least with one kneel touching the ground when shaking those elders.
In the other hand, if at a distance, one may touch the chest and bow slightly as show of respect to an elderly person you sighted from a bit far from you.
It’s common in rural communities and even in the streets of Lusaka, to see men kneeling across the road from their mother in-laws, sometimes clapping hands as they kneel down, asking each other how the family is doing while completely avoiding eye contact.
Amongst the Igbo tribes of South Eastern Nigeria, one can hardly walk past an elderly person in all the rural communities without respectfully offering greetings as required. You don’t talk back while an elderly person speaks to you unless in response to a question asked. You are not qualified to eat along with an elderly person but feel very elated if you are asked by an elderly person to join him to eat. You cannot also address titled men by their real names.
In Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, males do prostrate on bare floors as an acceptable way of showing respect to an elderly. A well- behaved male child is one who greets elders by lying flat on the ground until they are asked to get up, of course, getting up too soon ridicule your efforts at being respectful over the years.
Do not that think that this respectful greeting patterns are for the less poor or weak ones or subjects to seek favour from well placed members of the society or as a way to seek favour from individuals or attention from the elderly, rather it’s a culture that have been there and will no doubt be handed over to generation to come.
Africans are indeed specially blessed and have a huge culture that cannot be found elsewhere but only in our Africa.
It’s worthy of note though, that the African traditional ways of greetings, just like that of other continental known greeting patterns, may have been altered temporarily or permanently by COVID19 unless we will be lucky as Africans and in indeed the rest of the world for permanent cure for corona virus pandemic.