Etiquette

Although things vary greatly, social mores remain generally conservative. Even so, Africans are usually relaxed in their dealings with foreign travellers; good manners and acting politely and modestly are key to avoiding offence.

  • Greetings are always important. Even if you're in a hurry, greet people you meet, ask how they are, how their day is going and so on.
  • Treat elders and those in positions of authority with deference and respect.
  • If in a frustrating situation, be patient, friendly and considerate. A confrontational attitude can easily inflame the situation and offend local sensibilities.
  • Always ask permission to photograph people.
  • Avoid vocal criticism of the government or country; the former could get your friends in trouble and many Africans take the latter personally.
  • When receiving a gift, accept it with both hands, sometimes with a slight bow.
  • Be respectful of Islamic traditions and don't wear revealing clothing.