Madume ga a jewe

Cultural norm: Greetings are an age-old African custom of acknowledgement and respect PIC: ABCTHEBANK.COM
Cultural norm: Greetings are an age-old African custom of acknowledgement and respect PIC: ABCTHEBANK.COM

From time immemorial human beings have practiced the act of greeting each other to intentionally make each other’s presence known. This universal act usually occurs between individuals or a group of people when coming in contact with each other.

Translated to Madume in the vernacular, the custom is not only a form of communication but an acknowledgement of people upon meeting with each other. However, Madume (greetings) in any language or human culture can be expressed both audibly and physically, and often involve a combination of the two.

Despite the tradition being regarded as one of the signs and pillars of humanity across the global village and significant to Botho and Setho in the Setswana culture, it would seem this practice is fast becoming one of those endangered species in our country Botswana if not the world over. Lately, it has not become uncommon to find an individual embark on a bus, combi full of passengers, walk into an office packed with colleagues and go straight to occupy their seats or work stations without greeting fellow souls. Even more disturbing are reverse situations where well-meaning and cultured individuals would be civil enough by extending greetings to those that they would find seated either in offices, homes, or buses only for the second parties not to return the gesture. Sometimes the poor folks, would even later be shaken from their slumber to cross-check if they had indeed earlier greeted and innocently ask, “Ijoo bathong, a ke le dumedisitse lotlhe (Hey people, did I greet you all?)" Only a few folks would bother to return the gesture.


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