1. Use of Hands in Shona Culture
- May 18, 2021
- Posted by: Vambo Academy
- Category: Zimbabwe
The Shona culture is verbally expressive through the use of language and song however physical actions are used for communication. These actions are demonstrated in a subtle manner; one which does not require extensive amounts of energy or the process of taking up a significant amount of space.
Traditional Hand Claps
When greeting, shona people accompany the words Makadini zvenyu (Formal version of hello, how are you) with a double or triple sound hand clap.
Males use two slightly cupped but flat hands to create a hollow clapping sound
Females cup both hands to produce a deeper sound. The shape created by females resembles an enclosed area where a gold ball can fit perfectly.
These claps are also used to communicate gratitude as they accompany words like Tinotenda (we thank you), Maita (thank you) after one has prayed, completed a strenuous task worth acknowledgement or offered a gift which the other party moves to receive after doing a slight hand clap of gratitude.
These claps can be conducted with various speeds in order to suit various events.
A slower clap is done following a speech or announcement and can be accompanied by ululations from females if the event is one of a jovial nature. Melancholic events such as funerals are appropriate for the use of slow claps particularly when one is offering their condolences to the aggrieved or acknowledging a eulogy at such an event.
Western Hand Claps
Shona people use the western hand claps in their conventional settings in order to congratulate or acknowledge a speech or presentation.
Children are taught to clap twice or thrice before receiving something from an elder as a sign of respect.
Right Hand Use
The right hand is mainly used proactively. This is the hand that has been traditionally ascribed to eating, shaking hands and receiving objects.
A handshake is conducted by the meeting of two right hands however it can result in being more of a grasp as the Shona people maintain the hand holding action for a period longer than the conventional western handshake. At times the left hand is used to pat the other party’s right shoulder.
Shona people also make use of the African handshake which is a handshake that is widely used across the continent. This handshake has three main stages. First it demonstrates a normal handshake, followed by an upward motion which results in the clasp of both hands then it moves back to the conventional handshake action.
Left Hand Use
The left hand is mostly used to fulfill supportive purposes. This hand is cupped under the right elbow when one party is receiving an object from another. It is also used to support the right hand’s grip on a bucket or vase placed on a party’s head when transporting liquid (water or beer) or other goods. Should the right hand be strong enough to hold the object in a steadfast manner then the left hand is not utilised in this regard. This situation can present the opposite for individuals whose left hand is dominant.
Use of Both Hands
Shona people use both hands when receiving objects or gifts by cupping them either side-by-side or with the left hand under the right hand facilitating a reinforcement or support mechanism for the object to be received.