For most people who live in the United States there is no specific circumscribed societally appropriate method of greeting others.  Whether it be friends, or family, or strangers, or new acquaintances, greetings can take any number of forms.

And for the most part, you’re probably not going be completely offensive to the other person.

One hand shake, taking both hands, hugging, cheek kissing…it’s all mostly okay given various circumstances.

Not so in many other parts of the world.  When traveling, it’s a good idea to find out how greetings are to take place.  How do you greet people younger than you?  How do you greet those who are your elders?  How do you greet those who are “equals” to you?

Make a mistake and you can really offend.

In the Western African countries that we visited, you never shook hands left handed or for that matter, ate left handed, or took something from someone with your left hand.

One of the local languages, Bambara, incorporated this custom into their words for left and right.  The word for “right” is kinibolofe…translated as “rice eating hand”.  The word for “left” is numanbolofe…”nose picking hand”.



About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

3 responses to “Numanbolofe

  • wonderlandhwy

    Oh no! I’d be in trouble, I’m left-handed! Lol

    I don’t know if I could remember to do everything with my right hand.

  • Miranda Dodd

    Actually there is ONE occasion when it is acceptable to shake left hands. If someone is going to travel but planning to come back they will shake left hands with their friends or family members who are seeing them off. The reason: Now they HAVE to come back so they can “put it right” by shaking right hands.

  • Lou (Linda)

    Miranda, that’s so cool! If I had known that earlier, I would have said good-bye by shaking your left hand! 🙂 Thanks so much for adding that to my post. I hope all is well up there in the 2!!!

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