Wednesday Wanderlust – 10 Values and Attitudes of West and Southern Africa

Are you vising the West or Southern African regions soon? Check out these 10 values and attitudes straight from our guides.

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1. The significance of greetings is probably the most important rule of etiquette that a visitor should learn and observe. For example if you walk into a house, workplace, meeting, or a past a friend or neighbour on the street without saying hello, it is viewed as a direct insult.

2. You’re not allowed to leave a Ghanaian’s home without a full belly. A good host will arrange beforehand for your favourite food to be prepared but whatever you get, be sure to obey the cook’s order of “Eat all!”

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3. It is not in the habit, generally speaking, for Batswana to invite people to their home other than for big occasions, nor is it the norm to “entertain” in the same way that people from the West might do. One “pops in,” as they say, and takes a chance on their being at home.

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4. The constitution written in English, mentions no official language, although English often fills this role. French tends to play the prestigious role of the language of business and culture. It is a bizarre situation in which English is effectively the official language but is no one’s mother tongue.

5. Mauritians are not ones to stay out late at night, and are much more likely to go to bed early and rise early the next day.

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6. Nature is the overarching concern of most Namibians. There is a great respect for the environment, as well as the single-minded respect for water, which is a precious commodity and should not be wasted.

7. The Kavango tribe believe that the western sky is a bad place; therefore the dead are buried with their heads facing west.

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8. It would be unthinkable to call an older friend or acquaintance by their first name (though anyone younger will be called by their first name); instead people will use a relationship title like auntie or uncle without the use of a first name and sometimes even when there is no blood relation.

9. There is a taboo about using your left hand. Do not accept things or pass things on to others using only your left hand – use your right or both hands.

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South Africa

10. You may find that South Africans speak rather loudly. This happens even when two people are simply having an ordinary conversation particularly at close quarters. – It’s a cultural thing.


You can view our books in our Africa section.



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