Ever wonder why Scouts shake with the left hand?
*Has links with Ashanti warriors
The left-handed Scout handshake is a formal way of greeting other Scouts of both genders and is used by members of Scout and Guide organizations around the world.
However, there are some variations of the handshake between national Scouting organizations and also within some program sections.
But have you ever wondered why they do this?
The handshake is made with the hand nearest to the heart and is offered as a token of friendship. In most situations, the handshake is made firmly, without interlocking fingers, and many organizations only use this handshake when both people are in uniform.
The 1935 Boy Scout Handbook says that “By agreement of the Scout Leaders throughout the world, Boy Scouts greet Brother Scouts with a warm left hand clasp.”
All World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts members share the left handshake, and when meeting other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, it may be used in conjunction with the Scout sign done with the right hand.
But various sources have attributed the origin of the handshake as an ancient sign of bravery and respect, to Lord Baden-Powell’s encounter after battle with Prempeh I, or to earlier published works by Ernest Thompson Seton.
There exist various versions of the Prempeh story, all centering on African warriors using the left hand to hold their shields and to lower it and shake the left hand of the person was to show they trusted each other.
According to the Ashanti warrior version of the story, then-Colonel Baden-Powell saluted them with his right hand, but the Ashanti chiefs offered their left hands and said, “In our land only the bravest of the brave shake hands with the left hand, because to do so we must drop our shields and our protection.” The Ashantis knew of Baden-Powell’s bravery because they had fought against him and with him, and they were proud to offer the left hand of bravery.
Another version of the story is that the left-handed handshake was a homage paid to Chief Kweku Andoh who was left-handed and had the tendency to shake hands with his left.
When Colonel Baden-Powell entered the capital city of the Ashanti people in 1890 he was met by one of the Chiefs who came to him holding out his left hand. B.-P. [Baden-Powell] held out his right in return but the Chief said: “No, in my country the bravest of the brave shake with the left hand.” So began the “left handshake” of the world-wide brotherhood of Scouts.