Culture VIDEO: How to Handshake

This is a funny demo video we made with comedian and all-round legend Siv Ngesi. Check him out on social media.

This is not THE African Handshake, just a version or even a combo of a few contemporary South African handshake styles that blend some of the traditional styles too.


Culture Insight – The African Handshake

– Handshakes are common between genders, mostly using the ‘African handshake’, consisting of the standard western grip, followed by a loose gripping of each others thumbs by the fingers, and then reverting back to a western grip. Usually the thumb clasp is done between men and not usually by women.

– Handshakes are usually soft, though it has slowly adapted to the traditionally firmer western grip (excluding the ‘wet fish’ handshake, which gives most people the woobly woo’s). They are also often accompanied by touching the right elbow with the left hand, a sign of respect that will be explained further in a later week.

– Handshakes between good friends can last for minutes, often the whole conversation, with the action (thumb clasp) repeating itself as a sign that the conversation is ending.

– It is common for men to hold hands, even whilst walking down the road. It speaks to the often far more public displays of affection shown within the separate gender groups, compared to across genders. You are far more likely to see a man holding the hand of another man then that of his wife. The other man is likely to be a good friend and peer, and they may well have passed through the manhood initiation ulwaluko together.

– And also so for women. This is because the culture generally separates out the groups, which each group having their own place to hang out at public gatherings, as well as expectations, taboos, roles assigned to people not only dependent on their gender, but on their age group. Of course, in a modern and urban context, these dynamics do not always exist to the same extent.

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