Citizen reporter and Rorisang Kgosana
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
11 Mar 2018
2:35 pm

Why these women are on the floor in front of Cyril as he laughs

Citizen reporter and Rorisang Kgosana

If you're a little lost, it's probably because you're not from Venda.

If the sight of a group of women lying prostrate on the floor of a mall in Centurion on Sunday confused you, that’s probably because you’re not from Venda, unlike President Cyril Ramaphosa, in whose honour the greeting was done.

A delighted Cyril Ramaphosa was welcomed by excited shoppers who stopped him at every chance to take a picture with the president when he visited Forest Hill City Mall in Centurion on Sunday.

He has been touring Gauteng since Saturday on an election drive to get voters to register or update their registration details with the IEC. Ramaphosa surprised shoppers when he arrived at the mall around 1pm with his motorcade and ANC supporters.

The president was particularly charmed by a group of women lying on the floor as he came along. He asked them to stand and gave them hugs.

The Citizen’s journalist Rorisang Kgosana was at the venue and took a clip of the greeting. Have a look below:

In Venda culture, it’s considered disrespectful to stand in the presence of a superior. People are encouraged to sit while speaking to their elders.

On a trip to Venda in 2015, President Jacob Zuma praised the VhaVenda for their respectful behaviour, jokingly saying that were he not already married, he would have married a MuVenda woman. He was specifically referring to how women in Venda lie down when they greet.

Here is a helpful list of a few “disrespectful” things in Venda culture:

  • 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.

– Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde