Zimbabwean culture of greeting

Day 14: Winter Blogging Challenge

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Today’s task is to share about one cultural aspect from my country or community. I want to share with you the culture of greeting from my country. I have written about this before HERE, but today I want to share it in a different twist.

Greeting in Zimbabwe is a way of life. It is usual for Zimbabweans to exchange greetings. In the Shona language which is my native language, we ask “how are you?”[Makadini zvenyu?] or the slang [zviri sei/ndeipi?] to be responded with “fine thanks, and you?”[tiripo makadiiwo?] or the slang [bho/hapana iripo!] before they proceed with their conversation. I am a bit rusty with my Zimbabwean slang because I haven’t been home since 2017 and I know there is something new coming out every year.

It is considered impolite to launch straight into your conversation without first exchanging these greetings. I got to know and appreciate this more when I lived in Hong Kong. It really shocked me how people can enter into a place and not greet the people they find already present, or passing elders in the street and not greeting them. Where I come from, especially in a small town, every elderly person is my elder and I am expected to greet them as I pass them. It is a sign of respect. In my home town, Mvurwi in Mashonaland central, we greet our neighbours, people passing in the street and anyone we meet along the way. The gate at my mother’s house is such that you can see people passing by and it is commonplace for shouted greetings to sound from the street to occupants of the household. These greetings can easily turn into long gossip sessions by the roadside.

Boonview Gates
Example of a popular gate in my community

We greet in public transport and even start whole conversations with strangers. It was such a culture shock for me to enter public transport in Hong Kong and experience the silence around me. No one talks to anyone, everyone has their head stuck in their phones. I have always experienced public transport as the space for discussion around current affairs, not sure if this is still the case. My readers from Zimbabwe can you please confirm this one?

I love greeting people so much that it affects me when I meet people who are okay with not greeting. I am learning, however, that people have different cultures. Cultural sensitivity is key because as much as I would want everyone to learn about what works for my people, it might not work for them. However, respect is universal and it goes a long way.

Do people in your country also value greeting? Let me know.

Until tomorrow,

GG


12 thoughts on “Zimbabwean culture of greeting

  1. Zviri sei seems to have become an almost standard greeting but there’s always new stuff popping out and it seems the more popular phrase a double said and double answered
    Zviri sei sei
    Bho bho
    Ndeipi ndeipi 😂😂

    ~B

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah we do value greeting and a child who greets is considered well trained.
    I had a similar experience in the UK, no one talks to anyone on the bus except maybe you come across your buddy, everyone head is buried in their phones.
    I had to unlearn greeting to an extent while I was there because most times I got no replies when I did.
    Well thats the culture thing I think🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

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