African Cultural Differences


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

Must Try African Dishes


It’s no secret that indulging in delectable new foods is one of the greatest parts of exploring a place you’ve never been before, and your journey to Africa will be no exception. Crispy barbecued meats, spicy sauces and rich flavors are just a few aspects of the cuisine you can start looking forward to. These delicious African dishes will undoubtedly get your palate just as excited for the big trip as the rest of you.


Briouats are a must-try. The baked or fried Moroccan pastries boast a variety of stuffings: beef, lamb, chicken, cheese, lemon, vegetables and spices like coriander and paprika. Get them as an appetizer, or try every flavor and make them your whole meal.

Pap en vleis/Shisa nyama

A South African favorite, pap en vleis means “maize porridge and meat.” You can try steak, kebabs, chicken, sausage or chops. The meat is barbecued and served with gravy or chakalaka, a spicy vegetable relish with a fiery flavor. Eat it with a local South African beer and you’re in for an unforgettable experience.


This flavorful dish is especially popular in East Africa.  It consists of raw chopped onions, tomatoes, salt and chili peppers for flavor and heat. Some enjoy it with pilau rice, a dish cooked with cumin, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and cinnamon. Even better? In Kenya, Kachumbari is eaten with roasted goat or beef.

Piri piri Chicken

A dish most commonly found in Mozambique, just reading about Piri piri chicken will likely get your mouth watering. Cooked with lime, garlic, pepper, coconut milk and cilantro, this meat and its marinade make for an amazing dish. We promise that the crisp, spicy roast chicken and its succulent center is delicious beyond belief.

Muamba de Galinha

Originally from Angola, Muamba de Galinha is a chicken cuisine made with palm oil or butter, garlic, okra and chilis. It’s often served with white rice and cassava leaves in the Congo River region, or macadamia or palm nuts in Gabon. If you’re looking for rich and spicy, Muamba de Galinha is the right choice.


South Africa’s national food, Bobotie is a combination of spicy ground meat, chutney, curry powder, raisins and apricot jam generally topped with baked eggs and milk. It tastes as incredible as it sounds.


Fufu is a paste created from starchy root vegetables like plantains, cassava, or yams. Originally a West African dish, the vegetables are pounded into a doughy substance and then rolled into tiny balls that are served with a variety of sauces or aside the main course. The starch perfectly complements spicy gravies or stews.


Also a Jewish tradition, Cholent is frequently eaten in Northern Africa. It typically consists of potatoes, pinto or kidney beans, onions, barley and meat. Beef is usually the meat of choice, but chicken or sausage can be substituted. Garlic, paprika, pepper and cayenne create the dish’s irresistible flavor.

So many spectacular dishes are just another sign that Africa could be your best vacation yet. Find out how Roho Ya Chui can help you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Jill Liphart for Roho Ya Chui, Travel Africa