Africa is a beautiful continent and it is made even more great by the values and standards of its people. Foreigners and tourists in an African nation would notice that there are particular behaviours that are similar to every African.
This article runs through some values that are peculiar to Africans. Here are ten of them:
1. Pointing at things
Pointing at something or someone with the index finger is usually considered rude or just straight offensive – it’s not something you want to do as a tourist in an African country. Different ethnic groups have different ways of pointing, most people poke their chins in the right direction or widen their eyes to show who or what they are referring to.
2. Overhand motion calling
Avoid motioning to call a person with an upwards palm. This gesture is seen as a sort of command and is rather derogatory. The preferred method is to call someone over with the palm faced down and pulling the fingers inwards.
3. Sole of the foot
Just like in many cultures around the world, the very bottom of your foot is the very dirtiest part of your body. It is therefore offensive to directly point your foot sole towards anyone.
4. Eating with the right hand
You might have heard this before, the right hand is for eating food and the left hand is reserved for the unsanitary task of what happens afterward. Whatever you do, don’t touch African food with your left hand!
5. Hissing and kissing sounds
To call the attention of someone is often performed with a hissing or loud smack of the lips. If you are not expecting it, the sounds might come as a surprise, but it’s totally acceptable and very common.
6. Silence is an African value
Don’t be alarmed or nervous with spans of silence during African conversation. When there’s something to be said, it will be said; when there’s nothing to be said, silence is perfectly fine. There’s no need to feel uneasy during a period of silence in Africa, take the time just to enjoy the presence of others.
7. Positive communication
Positive communication is a key African cultural value. Along with not displaying public negativity there are countless ways to express “good,” or “ok.” Don’t immediately get into a discussion about a hardship or struggle, these topics can be gradually be brought forth.
8. Relationships are important
Meeting people and spending time with others to develop lasting relationships is an aspect of African culture that is truly cherished.
9. Don’t talk too much during a meal
Simple small talk is permissible, but don’t try to talk too much business or seriousness during a meal. Serious issues are handled after the meal.
10. Receive a gift with both hands
If someone graciously gives you a gift, a non-verbal way to show extreme thankfulness is to accept it with both hands outstretched.
11. Personal Space
It might seem odd (or even drive you crazy) when you are the only person on an empty bus and another person gets on and sits down right next to you. Imagine growing up in a single room with 10 people living together, or living with a clan of extended family; your idea of personal space might be a little different thinking in African terms.
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