A group of Venda women fell on the floor at the feel of President Cyril Ramaphosa when they saw him at a shopping centre in Centurion.
Ramaphosa was delighted at the tradtional greeting and honoured that they displayed such a high level of respect for him.
He asked the women to stand and gave them each a hug. People who were walking past looked on in confusion.
In the Venda culture it is a sign of disrespect to stand in the presence of a superior, usually people sit in the presence of elders. The lower the person goes the higher the degree of respect shown.
In 2015 Jacob Zuma praised the VheVenda people for their respectful behaviour and at the time he joked that if he wasn't already married he would choose a MuVenda woman as his bride.
There are quite a few things which can be considered disprespectul in the Venda culture. Here is a list.
- Eating while standing
- Giving or accepting something while standing up straight. If you cannot go all the way to the ground, at least bend your knee to show you know your place.
- When giving or accepting, don’t do it with one hand, because no matter how small the object is, your hands must support each other. This one was so bad, they would actually take back whatever it was they were giving you if you accepted it with one hand.
- Going to the chief’s house in pants (only for women, of course. Traditional attire all the way – “Nwenda”). A man must have a jacket on.
- Greeting the chief and elders while standing. Basically, avoid standing at all costs – it will make your life easier.
- Adults do not lie. Well, a younger person is not allowed to say an adult lied, they say “o swaswa” (which literally means “joking” but is a euphemism for lying). I always argue that adults should just stop “u swaswa” so they save the rest of us all the trouble.
- Don’t talk back to your elders, even if you’re right. Don’t raise your tone either.
- When a man enters a yard or house, he must take off his hat.
- When a woman enters the yard, they say “Aa!” and take a sit.
- When a woman enters a house, she must kneel down at the door before coming in (what a disrespectful generation we are).
- When cooking on a fire, a woman must kneel instead of sitting on a chair, or worse standing – depending on the size of the pot.
- You do not take someone’s belongings without asking – and no, we don’t mean stealing. Even if they’re your close relative, you ask before you take. Kids don’t just open a fridge and take what they want; they ask from an adult first.
- Do not accept anything from an elder while standing. You must kneel first. You don’t give anything to an elder while standing either – use both hands too.
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