Monday, August 24, 2015

Zim Zips: Ombera

(ed: after recording this video, I learned I was clapping the wrong way. Women are supposed to keep their fingers together & hands cupped as they clap. You may notice that my left thumb is not touching the rest of my finger.)

While in Zimbabwe, we are learning about the culture and language of the Shona people (the prominent people group in our area). One of the most common topics covered is about 
R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sing it with me). Yes, respect.

You are expected to show respect to all of those ahead of you in the line of respect.

Line of respect – Sekuru (grandfather or leader), Ambuya (grandmother or first wife of leader), Baba (father), Amai (mother), married man, married woman, single man older than you, single woman older than you, child.

Showing respect in the Shona tradition means having good manners and being humble & considerate. There is a proper way to do and say almost everything in day-to-day life. Respect is shown in many different ways: following the set patterns for traditional greetings, approaching others with the right posture & attitude, and clapping.


Yes. Clapping. (or “ombera” in Shona)

Clapping is a way of showing humble politeness. You clap your hands when greeting other people, when thanking, and before receiving a gift. There is a proper way to clap, and men & women each have a different clapping style. Men clap with hands flat together and palms & fingers joined. Women cup their hands and lap the right hand crossways over the left.

The louder the clap indicates more respect.
The more claps, the more respect.

The next time you want to show someone respect, why not clap your hands and see what kind of response you get!

How do you show respect in your culture? Have you ever been to a new place and had to learn a new way of showing respect? Or maybe you have accidentally shown rudeness in a different country when you thought you were being respectful. Leave your answers & stories in the comments below.

This is the first post in a series called Zim Zips. Each week, Kameron will host a new video highlighting a unique aspect of Zimbabwe or Shona culture. To see more Zim Zips, click here. To subscribe to our YouTube page & stay up-to-date on all of our videos, click here.

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