"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


your first time in africa, part two

Well, the discussion surrounding last week's post on going to Africa for the first time was lots of fun. As William, whose fantastic Stood in the Congo blog I adore, points out, customs are different in different countries and cultures. I would never want to give the impression that I think otherwise; Africa is an incredibly diverse continent, and practices vary. The things I listed were what I've found to be common in the eleven countries I've visited, all of which are in central, eastern, and southern Africa.

That said, Texas in Africa readers came up with some great additions to the list:

39. Allhokie points out that, "Not everyone sits to go to the bathroom." Yup.
40. Katherine says, "To number fourteen I would add ciprofalaxin. The miracle drug. Don't travel without your cipro. " Katherine is so right! I never go anywhere without Cipro.
41. And, "Prepare to come home and be stunned by how short church seems!"
42. And, "we are quite sensitive on topics such as weight and skin color, which are not as taboo in many other countries. Be prepared for unexpected conversations!"
43. Euphrony notes, "Gray hair (which my dad has in abundance) is highly respected." William disputes this, but in my experience, age and elders are very respected.
44. And, "Breastfeeding in public is only scandalous in the West." (Clearly, Euphrony doesn't live in Austin! :)
45. Tauratinzwe said, "Anyone who drinks the water of Africa has to go back. (Africa becomes a part of you that you never want to loose.) "
46. And my sister points out that often you will be "told what you want to hear because it's polite and not considered dishonest as we westerners think it is."

Thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation! Anything else to add?


Blogger euphrony said...

I know, I know - Keep Austin Weird.

Actually, Mrs. E lived there for six months before our daughter was born, doing an internship at Zach Scott Theatre. So, she's lived there, but not me.

My comment was to the typical Western aversion, almost revulsion, to public breatfeeding. It was hard with our daughter because there was/is tremendous social pressure felt by the mom to at least cover up with a blanket. Problem was, Lil'E would pitch a fit when she did that. And she would not take a bottle, so . . .

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:16:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I didn't mean that in a pejorative sense! Sorry! You're absolutely right. My comment was more on Austin's live-and-let-live attitude than on the reality in the vast majority of American cities. Here in scenic Austin where a lawsuit forced our public swimming holes to allow women to swim topless (gender equity), we're very aware that we're not normal when it comes to these things.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:27:00 PM

Blogger euphrony said...

Oh, no offense taken. I understand Austin's unique qualities

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 1:32:00 PM

Blogger allhokie said...

In my two years in Kenya, there wasn't much hugging, even with people I was close to. Hand shaking carried plenty of affection. When I returned to the US, I was surprised by the brevity of church services and also by people who kept hugging me. The lack of hugging isn't about personal space -- that idea seems absent. Just take a look at a matatu.

Continuing with affection, in Kenya, women hold hands with women, and men hold hands with men, but not men and women, and it's not anything homosexual, just a different way of paying attention to a friend. It makes people, usually men, uncomfortable, like the breast feeding.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 2:26:00 PM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Allhokie, that's really interesting. In Congo, you hug (and air-kiss) your close friends when greeting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 2:46:00 PM

Blogger allhokie said...

maybe the non-hugging is a British legacy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:04:00 PM


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