Local traditions and culture in Africa

  • Lunch is ready
    Lunch is ready
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  • local drinking mint-tea Meknes
    local drinking mint-tea Meknes
    by EviP
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    tourist drinking mint-tea, Meknes
    by EviP

Most Viewed Local Customs in Africa

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    HAND WASHING CEREMONY - ETHIOPIA

    by DAO Written Jul 30, 2013

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    Ethiopians are very observant of hygiene, especially when eating. The national dish is Injera with different dishes being placed up on it. All Injera is eaten with the right hand and food is traditionally shared. So it makes a lot of sense that you will always be offered for your hands to be washed by your hosts before you eat. Whether it is in a restaurant or in someone’s home, you will be approached with a bowl, soap and water to wash your hands with. The containers can be anything from actual silver to plastic. The bowl that holds the soap drains into the bottom as the water is poured. I would recommend that you use a light amount of soap and wash your fingers well and away from the bowl. That way the water does not come before you have administered the soap. Just remember - it’s the fingers that are important. If you are eating Injera properly, you never take more in your fingers than you can easily put in your mouth and the food should not be in contact with the palm of your hand. There may not be a lot of water if there are a few of you and a soap taste when eating is not nice. Should you need more water though, just ask. In most places your female host will also have a towel to dry your hands. In some smaller restaurants you may not have this, so just shake your hands. Please do not wipe your hands on your clothes if you are sharing with people.

    This ritual actually a religious tradition called 'Sen'na bert' and it is traditionally the lady of the house who will offer to wash the guests' hands. Like many ancient religious practices, it’s based upon sound principles. It would be absolutely offensive to not wash your hands in this manner before eating. If you have any concerns, discreetly wipe your hands with a sanitizer before you sit down for a meal, but after you have shaken everyone’s hand you are eating with.

    After you have eaten, the soap and water will appear again to clean your fingers. I would still recommend wet wipes for after your meal. The sauces often really get under your fingernails.

    Enjoy!

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    BEER REVIEW: MÜTZIG BEER

    by DAO Written May 28, 2013



    I kept seeing Mützig being advertised, and sold, all over Rwanda.It seems very popular. I have no idea why. I found the one bottle of Mützig I drank tasted like pure pig’s swill. Yes, it was cold. Mützig is a pale lager from eastern France. Originally the area was German; hence the Beck’s like bitter taste. This beer has a good reputation in France so I am not sure why it tasted so vile here in Rwanda. Either it’s brewed different or it completely over-rated. I found it left a lingering acidic after-taste. I had to drink a watery Amstel to clear out my palate. It’s brewed in Rwanda, DRC and Cameroon.

    My suggestion? Stick with Primus. It tastes better, has bigger bottles AND is cheaper! Also DRC has an even better beer called Tembo!

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    BEER CELEBRATING BEING TRAMPLED TO DEATH

    by DAO Updated May 2, 2013

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    On December 8, 1922 Kenya Breweries was founded by brothers George and Charles Hurst. They had previously worked as gold prospectors and farmers. One week later they brewed their first beer and bottled the first 10 cases by hand. They were delivered to the famous Stanley Hotel in Nairobi and their brewing business had begun. In 1923 George was killed on a hunting expedition by a male Tusked Elephant, which is indigenous to East Africa. Charles decided to name the beer they brewed ‘Tusker’ in honour of his brother.

    Today the brewery is called East African Breweries and they sell over 700,000 hectolitres ( 596517 barrels,18 million US gallons) in Kenya alone. Tusker is still their biggest seller. They like to explain that Tusker is made form the finest local ingredients. This includes barley from the Savannah and the Maasai Mara, sugar from the Rift Valley and spring water from the Aberdare Mountains.

    On the label of every bottle you will see the printed words “Bia Y Angu Nchi Yangu” which is Swahili for “My beer my country.” Incredibly 1 in 3 cans or bottles of beer sold in Kenya is a Tusker. In 2003 almost 6% of the Nairobi water supply was devoted to just brewing Tusker. It really is the beer of Kenya.

    Today Tusker is brewed in 3 varieties:
    Tusker (original) 4.2% ABV
    Tusker Malt: 5.0% ABV
    Tusker Lite: 4.0%

    I find its ok, to a bit bland. It’s best serve cold, but is good with food.

    So please raise your glass and celebrate the trampling of poor George.

    “Afya”! (Cheers!)

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    MYSTERY! THE BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION - MOZAMBIQUE

    by DAO Written Oct 11, 2012


    Ever wonder why some countries have Embassies and some have High Commissions? A High Commission (with the attendant High Commissioner) means that the country is a member of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth was the Former British Commonwealth that was formed by nations that were former British Colonies and Possessions before individual dates of Independence. In addition to being former colonies they have many things in common like the English language and driving on the left-hand side of the road. So why is there a British High Commission in Maputo - the capital of Mozambique?

    Because Mozambique became the Commonwealth's 53rd member (and the first not to have once been associated with the British Empire) in November 1995. Mozambique, despite being a Portuguese speaking former colony of Portugal, had long been interested in Commonwealth membership. They had to gain the agreement of all the other members at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in New Zealand in 1995.

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    THE FLAG OF CAPE VERDE

    by DAO Written Nov 5, 2011


    The current Flag of Cape Verde is relatively new (1992) and is very befitting an island nation. It has 10 stars on it represent the 10 islands making up the county – which are clearly to one side. That’s because the stars are on the hoist side of the flag making it a flag for land and a naval ensign all-in-one. It was officially adopted when Cape Verde dissolved its political ties from Guinea-Bissau on the mainland. It is derived from the flag of the Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (P.A.I.G.C.), the liberation movement which successfully gained independence for both countries (Guinea-Bissau in 1974, Cape Verde 1975).

    The colours and symbols represent:

    Blue: the Sea and Sky
    White: Peace
    Red: Hard work/effort of the nation
    Stripes: the road to construction of the nation
    10 stars: the 10 islands
    The circle of stars: represents everything from unity to the globe and even a navigators compass.

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    THE TIRE GAME

    by DAO Written Nov 2, 2011


    I first really noticed this on the island of Zanzibar. During my stay in Jambiani Village I kept seeing kids playing with old bicycle tire rims. They would use a good stick and propel the tire along the road at great speed with the stick pushing along the groove. Not only is this not easy to do – these kids were amazing fast. If you think its easy – give it a try.

    I have also seen children across Africa using larger tires, even car tires in a slighly differnet fashion. This is a game where children with little or nothing, find perfectly fun toys using what is to hand and some imagination.

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    ANIMAL CONSERVATION - SWAZILAND

    by DAO Updated Nov 1, 2011

    THE REILLY FAMILY

    The Reilly Family created Mlilwane Game Sanctuary in Swazialnad to help restore the wildlife that was depleted in Swaziland in the past. James Reilly settled at Mlilwane in 1906 and began to mine tin. He became the largest employer of industrial labour in the country and introduced electricity to Swaziland. He was known the locals as “Machobane”. His son, Ted Reilly was born at Mlilwane in 1938 and still runs the sanctuary today.

    The Reilly’s saw the demise of Swaziland’s wildlife which included the rinderpest (or cattle plague) in 1896, excessive & illegal hunting, the ‘wildebeest plague’ in the 1930’s, poison, traps, herbicides, pesticides, and wholesale depletion of Swaziland’s game and flora over decades. Ted Reilly decided to turn the family farm into a sanctuary for indigenous wildlife in 1963. Mlilwane, which means Little Fire, became Swaziland's first organised conservation area. Since its opening wildlife of all kinds including fish and reptiles have been ‘hunted’ in Swaziland to be brought here to increase their numbers. It is now 10 times its original size due to support from the Royal Family and private donations. It is now a National Park and you can actually stay overnight. In fact you can take advantage on 'Night Trails' as there are no animals in teh park that will eat you and and companions.

    Thanks to this remarkable family, much of Swaziland’s wildlife still flourishes.

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    African tattoo's

    by Wafro Written Oct 30, 2011

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    African art is more than wooden masks and sculptures alone. The local youth is trying to express themselves with a western art form such as tattooing. They have very basic instruments but the results sometimes are fascinating.

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    THE SINK EXPERIMENT

    by DAO Written Oct 29, 2011


    What is the sink Experiment? Scientifically water going down a sink will rotate counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. I set out to conduct this experiment for Virtual Tourist here in Zimbabwe, which is in the Southern hemisphere. This is due to the Coriolis Effect, a force caused by the rotation of the Earth. Guess what? IT’s A MYTH! I found that I could get the water to go in either direction just by diverting the water slightly. Often it ran in the ‘wrong’ direction. Don’t believe it? Come for a visit and try it for yourself!

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    GATHERING WATER

    by DAO Updated Oct 16, 2011

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    If you really want to see and understand the real Africa, you need to get up early and get onto the road. Many people live in homes without running water. So every mooring you have to get up early and take a large plastic container and walk to the village well. Then you have to carry this now very heavy container back to the house. OK, that’s the morning bath. What about dishes? Laundry? Baths for other? Children learn this endless daily routine and literally carry this lesson through life. It’s not easy. So get out on that road and appreciate how life is not easy, but you can still always get a smile and a wave.

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    NOT GOOD - SLASH & BURN AGRICULTURE

    by DAO Updated Oct 16, 2011

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    You are looking at a crime. This is both against the law and an environmental disaster. Slash & Burn agriculture is just like it sounds. It happens all over Africa, but my pictures and story are from Madagascar (Photo 5 is in Burundi). In Madagascar this traditional way of clearing land is called ‘Tavy’. Local farmers mark of a few acres of, often rain forest, and literally burn it all to the ground. They do this to plant rice field mostly. Rice is harvested for 1-2 year from the now cleared land and then left alone, or fallow, for 4-6 years. The process is repeated through 2-3 more cycles until the soils nutrients are destroyed. Then little can grow on it except scrub and rains bring erosion and further damage to the land. As poor farmers exhaust the flatter land, they then move up increasingly steep slopes over the years and this causes even worse environmental disaster. Why do they do it? It is illegal and poor land management. Unfortunately this quick & easy process has been handed down for generations. The government has stopped this in some areas through education of more productive methods, but not very area has gotten the message.

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    African dances

    by Wafro Written Sep 25, 2011

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    Dancing is a common activity in Sub- Saharan Africa, there are so different African dances as there are cultural differences. Many dances have a social connection they dance to learn patterns in life, to praise and pray, they use it to celebrate weddings and maturation,….. Most of the dances are accompanied with African drums and music.
    The modern city youth also dance in discos with a western character.

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    The internet

    by Wafro Written Sep 19, 2011

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    Anno 2011 the internet is widespread around Africa. The first time I visited the African continent they didn’t have any connections with the WWW. These days you can find the internet almost everywhere in the larger cities. Prices vary from place to place, but never pay more than 5€ for an hour.
    Connections arn't always that fast as at home!!!

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    Local toys

    by Wafro Written Sep 16, 2011

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    Many African kids don’t have the luxury to afford toys as they do over here, but the elder people are inventive and they prepare there own. Maybe next time you should bring some cars or dolls along. Give them to the mothers and never directly to the children otherwise you could create beggars.

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    Water transport

    by Wafro Written Sep 15, 2011

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    In many places of the African continent water is still transported manually or should I say head(ly)? In rural areas water supply is the day job for women and children, the fill their jugs or buckets with river-, source- or pump water. Sometimes they have to walk for mile before they reach clean and potable water. I once tried to balance a jug filled with water on my head, LOL. This is something you do when you have a lot of experience.

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