We all have different perspectives on how we view the world, so we should make time to learn and understand the diverse cultural values of other countries when planning to visit them. 

If you’re heading to Africa for the first time, you must be aware of certain norms and etiquette as a sign of respect, especially when there is a language barrier whereby your actions have to speak louder than your words.


There are various traditions and practices regarding etiquette in Africa, which vary among different ethnicities, religions and linguistic groups, but here are a few African cultural values that you should be mindful of when making your way to Africa. Below are the essential tourist etiquette in Africa if you plan on visiting the continent:

8 Essential Tourist Etiquette in Africa

1. Greeting:  It is an excellent way of showing admiration when you greet African people. A simple ‘Hello’ or a handshake is a perfect way of making your first impression. It could also be a light kiss on the cheek for women but if you feel doubtful, go for a safe handshake.

2. Show Respect for the Elders: It is not surprising to know that elders in Africa are very well respected because of the foundations of their past, culture and history. It would be best to acknowledge the elders and, if you can, engage them in conversations and serve them during their meal time.

3. Don’t point out: Pointing at someone or something is considered offensive and rude in Africa. Most ethnic groups have different ways of pointing at something using the chin or elbow to get people’s attention. If you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the Africans, try not to point your fingers around.

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4. Do not show your anger in public: Public display of anger or impatience is not advisable in Africa. Some unexpected situations may occur that will tend to frustrate youi. Still, it is essential not to show signs of negative feelings in public as Africans have remarkable self-control.  

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5. Tipping: When someone has offered you a service or assisted you with something, such as the local hairdressers, tour guides, taxi drivers and hotel staff, it is generally expected in Africa as a basic etiquette to tip them whatever may be fair to the service that they’ve rendered.

6. The Left-hand rule: You have probably heard this before, but it is essential to be aware of the left-hand rule. No matter what you do, don’t touch African food with your left hand because traditionally, the right hand is usually used for eating, touching or passing things to others. In contrast, the left hand is reserved for unhygienic acts.

7. Giving gifts: Whenever you’re planning on visiting Africa, it would be best to bring gifts for acquaintances or children. You must also understand that African etiquette ensures that you give a gift to someone with your right hand or both hands but never use the left hand. 

8. Don’t force a conversation: Silence is one of the best etiquettes you should observe in Africa. You might consider a moment of silence awkward or painful, but it’s essential to know that you don’t always have to attempt to fill the silence with a conversation, as most Africans want to enjoy the presence of people.

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