African culture is rich and diverse. For many, the first trip to Africa may often be overflowing with thrilling, fascinating, and one-of-a-kind experiences.
But knowing their practices and customs before you visit is something that you must do before going.
Although there are a lot of things to consider when going to Africa, you must prepare yourself for encounters with the African community.
If you observe these acts of African people and cultures with respect, you will build bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime.
In this article, we will discuss the African cultures you must know before visiting.
How Do We Show Respect in African Culture?
The use of your hands may communicate respect or disrespect in African culture. As a tourist to this lovely place, an insult is probably the last thing you want to stir around unintentionally.
One of the basic courtesy gestures when going to Africa is to avoid extending your index finger to point at certain things or places.
If you want to attract people’s attention, use your chin or elbow while vocally expressing what you want them to notice.
Another situation in which you may inadvertently insult someone is when you want to invite someone to join you.
To avoid doing so, hold your palm towards the group and extend your fingers inwards to suggest that the individual approach you.
In addition to this, eating with both hands may be regarded as the norm in many different cultures across the globe. However, in Africa, it is critical that you only ever do it with your right hand.
The left hand is considered filthy and is exclusively used for “unsanitary activities,” making it unsuitable for eating in the presence of Africans.
What Do I Need to Know Before Traveling to Africa?
Handshake and Greeting
One of the pleasant things you can do in Africa is to greet people. A simple “Hi” followed by a handshake is enough to create a good first impression on anybody.
A handshake is the most common greeting, followed by eye contact and smiling.
Depending on who you are meeting, handshakes may be gentle or firm.
Men typically wait for women to offer their hands first when shaking hands with someone of the opposing gender.
If someone knows each other well, they may welcome each other with a hug.
Respect to Elders
African cultural values are built on the past and the present, which is why elders are highly revered.
When in Africa, it is a basic courtesy to always respect elders; allow elders to ask questions, and let them begin first at meals.
African societies have held elders in high esteem, and the practice continues to this day.
Elders have tremendous importance in African culture and should be treated with compassion and respect at all times.
Silence is Valued
Although Africa is a continent whose traditions are firmly rooted in the art of storytelling, silence may occasionally take over.
Don’t be surprised or anxious if there are long periods of quietness during a discussion in Africa.
While silence is frequently regarded as uncomfortable in Western society, it is considered a time of peace in Africa, during which you may really appreciate the company of people around you.
When there is something to say, it will be stated. But when there is nothing to say, silence is acceptable.
While you are in Africa, take some time out and go outside your comfort zone – experience the true meaning of golden silence.
Accept Gifts with Both Hands
If someone offers you a present, a nonverbal method to express your gratitude is to receive it with both hands extended.
Receiving things with both hands together, held out like a cup, is considered courteous.
Never use your left hand when handing presents to Africans. You should always give someone a present with either both hands or your right hand only.
Remember to wrap your gifts before you hand them to someone as Africans do not unwrap presents in public.
Positive communication is an important cultural value in Africa. Aside from avoiding public argument, there are many ways to communicate that you are feeling “good” or “fine.”
Don’t jump right into a conversation about despair, problems, or anything negative. You can bring them up gradually, but not at the beginning of your conversation.
Though some situations may become aggravating, it is critical not to openly show any kind of negative emotion.
Africans exhibit extraordinary self-control. They are very careful not to insult or humiliate anybody in public.
African cultures may be extremely conservative, depending on the region you visit.
Africans inject a lot of color and creativity into their clothes, and many wholesale African print dresses have been popularized in their region.
If you are not sure about what to bring, pack clothes that don’t show too much skin: long skirts and loose blouses for ladies and light, loose clothing for men are usually fine.
Tank tops with spaghetti straps, low-cut shirts, and short shorts should be avoided.
More Westernized nations, such as South Africa, Egypt, and Morocco, are more inclined to show off their clothes in big cities and on the beach, while rural regions are considered to be more traditional.
Modest attire shows respect for the native customs and reduces the possibility of unwanted attention.
In conclusion, keep in mind that Africans are courteous and compassionate people who are willing to go beyond to respect and help others.
If we learn a little bit of African culture and values before we go to Africa, we can easily leave a favorable impression; exemplifying respect that will create memorable experiences!