Sunday, February 8, 2015


This information on Zulu culture and customs was taken from a pamphlet that was recently shared with us. We felt this section might be of interest to our family and friends, and worth us being able to look back on, years after the completion of our mission.

"Greetings or acknowledgements are an important part of Zulu culture. All people you make eye-contact  with, you should greet, and all greetings should be acknowledged.

When shaking hands with a Zulu, you should support your right arm with your left hand underneath. They usually do a 3-part handshake: start with a regular handclasp, then slide hands forward until you clasp the upright thumb, then back to a handclasp. Practice with this greeting with your companion. (This handshake is NOT used in Indian and white areas.)

Women may be addressed as "Mama" and men as "Baba."

amaZulu are brought up from their youth to look down when addressing their elders, to speak quietly and to speak only when spoken to. This is deeply ingrained in their culture and should not be taken as a sign of shiftiness or guilt.

Many people prefer you to use the back door -- it is considered more humble. Also, it is rude to knock loudly on a door. Talk, or clear your throat as you approach, and try a soft knock first.

Upon entering the home, amaZulu seat themselves immediately and unobtrusively. They do not wait to be invited to sit.

In Zulu culture a subordinate should not be physically taller than his senior. Try to get to their level. If they are seated, sit. If they are standing, stand.

When handing things to people, always try to hold the object with both hands. Likewise, it is polite to have both hands open when someone hands you something. This is especialy nice with older people.

When visiting a baba or couple, try to bring a baba or couple with you: the ones you are visiting (especially the baba) will then feel obligated out of courtesy to stay and listen to what you say.

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