Written by Timothy Makokha
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Luhyia people of Kenya are people who value greetings more than anything else. The term Luhyia means in front of a house. This means they are people who value one another, giving greetings to everybody.
Is this the reason why comedians have been making fun of luhyias that they love radio because of the salamu (greetings) radio programs for them to receive and send greetings to their friends and relatives?
What happens when a person fails to respond to greetings? Such a person is normally seen as a person who is rude, lacks respect or has ill motives about other people.
Greetings reveal a lot to us about manners of person. People are likely to question about the background and upbringing of a person if such a person cannot greet people properly. If one does not greet others as expected, he/she may be asked a question like; who taught this one at school or at home?
For example the tone used and the manner in which a person greets you matters a lot. Generally it is expected that when a young person meets an old person, it is the young person to greet the old. In the process of greeting, one has to humble oneself as a sign of respect to the aged.
Luhyias valued greetings as it enabled them to interact freely in a foreign land because greetings made a beginning of knowing each other. How would you feel for instance when a person asks you direction maybe is lost without greeting you, how will you look at the matter?
For example, you go past a group of people without greeting them, and then it happens that you’ve lost your way, will you freely go back to them and ask them for direction? That’s why in the past it was advisable that you greet people in case you will need any help from them, it become easy.
It is generally expected that when you are passing past homestead, it is you to greet the people, in the home, but not the other way round.
During the traditional courtship period elders were very keen to know whether a girl or boy is a person who greets people or not. Chances are that marriage arrangements were likely to be cancelled if one of the parties is a person who does not value greeting others.
Politicians like falling prey of the concept of greetings where they only greet people freely when election approaches. Such a politician is likely to encounter criticism from his/her counter parts.
While greeting people who are drinking the local brew, one has to acknowledge them with due respect in order for a person to get an invitation to join them or to get permission to talk to them.
When the greetings were directed to a group of people it depends on the average age of the members in that group. For example age mates are not to be treated like middle aged men/women or elders. The main aspect here is humility in the greeting process.
In case of a quarrel or misunderstanding among members of a family, the elders would advise the parties involved in the disagreement and then instruct them to shake hands with each other as a sign of peace restoration. In this respect greetings were used as a sign of peace restoration among people.
The same is applied in some schools where when learners are involved in a disagreement, teachers would counsel them and advise them to greet one another. At this point after greetings between the individuals’ means no one is to hold a grudge or ill intentions against the other.
This concept of greetings reminds of the Raila-Kibaki 2008 golden handshake at the onset of the coalition government after the 2007/2008 post election violence. This golden handshake restored peace in this country because it acted as a symbol of a re-union between rival parties PNU and ODM.
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