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a VirtualTourist member from Bronx


Mississippi in Africa Handshake

I am currently reading "Miisssippi in Africa" by Alan Huffman, and was wondering if anyone out there has read it or can speak for its accuracy. Does anyone know if people in Monrovia have a customary complicated handshake involving snapping fingers?

5 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Maryland City

No they don't , they greet just like anyone else because I was born in Monrovia, Liberia.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Jackson

Perhaps it's just a guy thing, but I can assure you, the handshake was quite common when I was there in 2001. Alan Huffman

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Madison

There is definitely a customary handshake involving snapping fingers in Liberia. I lived there for two years when in the Peace Corps in 1964-66 and it was very common to shake hands and as you pull your hand away the two of you each use your middle finger to make a snapping sound. I recently attended a ceremony honoring Pres. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at Marquette University and met several Liberians and shook hands with them in that same way.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

I have been to Liberia many times and still go, I am friends with many Liberians and I can assure you with no doubt that the Liberian handshake is real and there is a snaping of fingers. Acually this handshake is famous and is even included in many of the Countries government publications, you will see the famous white hand shaking black hand with the snape of the fingers. All over Liberian markets you will see wood carvings with the Liberian handshake. This handshake is very important in Liberia and I have yet to shake a hand with a Liberian with out the snap. This handshake has a great history and meaning behind it and the Liberian people use it with pride. The handshake represents slavery when the middle fingers slide up against each other because many slaves were marked by the tip of their middle finger being cut off, after the middle fingers slide you snap either with the other person or on your own, this means "Forgiven and Forgotten".

answered by
a VirtualTourist member

I have not read the book you mention (I am going to try to find it), but I was a Peace Corps Volunteer Math teacher in Kolahun, Liberia from 1982-1984. Kolahun is far from Monrovia, but I spent time in Monrovia as well. In Kolahun, Monrovia, and every other place I visited in Liberia, the handshake ended with finger snapping using the middle fingers. I would not described it as complicated, but it was distinctive.

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