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Customs and Traditions

Dress is important for both men and women, and you will find even the poorest people in remote rural locations make an effort to dress smartly. You should always dress modestly and reasonably neatly in public places - avoid bare legs or shoulders, and excessively tatty clothing.

Public displays of affection and open anger will often be frowned upon.

Politeness, respect and greetings are very important in African culture. People often spend several minutes at the start of a conversation simply greeting each other and shaking hands, so it is essential that you know some standard greetings and responses. The elderly and professionals are treated with particular deference and the appropriate greetings should be used.

There is a large Muslim community in Northern and East Africa, so be sensitive to the Islamic traditions. If you have a Muslim guide or taxi driver be aware that they will want a few moments off, particularly around midday, late afternoon and sunset, for prayer.

If eating with locals, food is often eaten without utensils using your right hand. The left hand is never used for handling or eating food, as it is traditionally used for toilet duties.

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