African Cultural Values To Know


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Africa has some silent cultural values that are expected to be followed religiously. Even though modernity has overshadowed most of these values, it is important to know them. We have listed some of the values that can help you stay away from raised eyebrows in some parts of Africa.

READ ALSO: The Ways of the Ancestors in Igboland


There are places you entered and you get into trouble for not greeting. The greeting is highly respected. Some people will not listen or help you if you forget to greet them. You do not need to know a local language before you can greet. Most places in the rural areas can make do with the English greetings.

 Show Respect to Elders

Elders are respected in Africa. Elders are given preferential treatment in every sector. They are highly respected. They are allowed to take the first step in every decision. Fighting or disregarding them could get you into trouble.

 Pointing At Things

You should not point at things or people with your index finger. That is taken as a rude gesture or offensive. You should be creative when it comes to pointing at things. Many tribes have different ways of pointing at things.

 Overhand Motion Calling

You should learn not to motion to call people with an upwards palm. You can call people with the palm faced down, with the fingers pulled inwards.


The sole of the feet is considered the dirtiest part and must not be used to point at anyone. The bottom of the foot should be left on the floor. You should not try to show it to people, especially when it is dirty. In Africa, you do not point your foot sole towards people.

Eat with the Right Hand

Eating with the left hand is a big no in public. You are expected to eat with your right hand, while the left hand is for handling the unsanitary task. 

You should not collect stuff with the left hand or touch things with the left hand.

Hissing and Kissing Sounds

While some rough neighbourhoods can hiss and do kiss sounds, that behavior is not welcomed in Africa. When you want to call people, you should not hiss or smack your lips.

Silence is an African Value

Silence can be a value for people who cannot stop talking. You might notice silence during a conversation in Africa. If you have nothing to say, you should keep quiet and no one will feel uncomfortable.

Time – A Little Less Important

Do not be surprised when you show up at an event and find the place empty. Africa time is the worse when it comes to business. However, modern Africans are not using this time value. They are on time for businesses. However, do not expect that for parties or social events.

Don’t Talk Too Much During a Meal

During meals, you are expected to keep quiet or talk less. Seriousness or talking much business during a meal is not a great value in Africa. You can handle your serious matters after your meal.

Receive a Gift With Both Hands

With both hands outstretched, you should receive gifts, as a sign of appreciation.


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