African Cultural Differences

mukuni-village-market

South Africa is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world. This often comes as a surprise to some safari goers, as not much is known about the cultural differences within African itself to the outside world. If you are planning to take a trip to this country or any African nation soon, take some time to discover the multicultural jewels that make this continent great. You will be delighted to find diverse tastes in cuisine, art, music, clothing and much more. The people of Africa are a vital part of any safari vacation experience. Here is a very basic overview of African cultural differences.

South African Culture and Society

South Africa is known as a rainbow nation. Like many other modern nations around the world, this country embraces diverse cultures and ethnicities within its borders. It has both urbanized areas and rural lands, each representing a different group of peoples. Family is very important to South Africans, which includes extended families or tribal communities. Human decency over materialism is an ideal that is held to a high standard. When meeting foreign tourists, proper etiquette is a simple, friendly handshake. Most are very welcoming to outsiders, and a return of this gesture is appreciated. This melting pot offers tourists a unique sampling of blended African values.

Acts that are Considered Rude

One of the most important things that tourists should know regarding African cultural differences is what acts are considered rude. You should avoid the following:

  • Pointing with the index finger at a person or thing is seen as very rude and even offensive. Different groups within Africa point in different ways, but tourists should make nodding or motioning a habit before their trip.
  • When motioning to someone, keep your palm down. An open palm is considered a rude gesture.
  • The bottom of the foot is seen as the dirtiest part of the body in most African cultures. Avoid pointing the sole of your foot towards anyone.
  • Do not touch food with your left hand. Many cultures in Africa reserve their right hand for eating. Hissing or kissing towards someone as a way to get their attention is very normal and culturally acceptable in Africa, so do not be offended if this happens.
  • Do not publicly show anger or frustration.

The Values of Silence and Time

Silence and time are seen a bit differently in Africa than most other places in the world. Rather than focusing on the future, Africans value past events. It is assumed that things will fall into place as time passes. Schedules are not always important. Africans also greatly value silence, so do not be surprised by long bouts of wordless moments.

Plan Your African Safari Vacation

Are you ready to start planning your African safari vacation and experience these cultural differences for yourself? We can help you to book the perfect trip. For more information, visit our safari tours page or contact a representative with Roho Ya Chui today.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa

Image: Bushtracks Africa

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