Unlike many other professions, the military profession is both a calling and a way of life. As such, the military life is premised on customs and traditions, many of which have been established as a result of this long history.
Within the military, Etiquettes, Customs and Traditions are simply the display of good manners, politeness and respect from both subordinates and seniors to each other. They are regular, expected actions which help maintain order and enforce military discipline.
In the Zambia Army, where most military personnel live and work in cantonments, Military Etiquettes, Customs and Traditions are practised both on and off duty and are considered more or less a way of life.
Here are the three (03) military customs and tradition found in the Zambia Army:
- The Salute
The salute is a custom deeply rooted in tradition and is a symbol of respect and a sign of comradeship. The most common form of salute is the hand salute which began in the days of chivalry when it was customary for knights dressed in armour to raise their visors to friends for the purpose of identification.
In the Zambia Army, Soldiers salute all Officers, and Officers salute their Seniors. Salutes are returned by persons saluted except when in civilian clothes or when in uniform but uncovered (without headdress). If a junior salutes a group of seniors, the senior most in the group returns the salute simultaneously. The salute is accompanied with an articulate, ‘Good morning Sir/Madam; Good afternoon Sir/Madam, and Good Evening Sir/Madam’ according to the time of day.
- The Senior Place of Honour
According to this custom, seniors will always walk and sit on the right of their juniors. The position of honour originated from the medieval swordsmen who always wore their weapons on the left side and drew them to their right. The strongest and most experienced warriors were given the place of honour (right) to allow them easy access to their weapons. Another military custom is coming to attention.
- Call to Attention
When a Senior enters a room of Juniors, the room will be called to attention and the Senior-most among the Juniors will pay compliments. In the Zambia Army all military personnel are also addressed properly by either their appointment or their rank and surname. It is common for Seniors to address Juniors by their first names but never vice versa. Being a former British colony, it is also common for Seniors to call Juniors ‘Old Chap’, which is a British affectionate term.
Credit: Zambia Army Facebook Page