We all know that we don’t pat the back of a colleague in Korea to thank them for a “job well done”. Or eat with your left hand in India, or sip vodka in Russia. In many countries, these actions are harmless. But in others, they can give a wrong impression or cause offense.
In fact, whatever culture you’re from, it’s likely that you routinely do something that could cause offense somewhere else in the world. So here is:
A primer on how to avoid mistakes in
You will observe the Burkinabé exchange greetings in what appears to be a shared prayer or ritual. Literally, all they are saying is “good morning, how’s the family, how’s work, how’s your health…” Greeting is a very important part of Burkinabé culture, and the only thing you really need to do here is to make an instant friend.
Ignoring someone and not greeting him or her, however, is taken far more seriously than in western cultures. It is virtually a slap in the face to ignore someone that has greeted you, or to not greet at all. Foreigners can probably get away with being “cold” and “unfriendly” in some settings, but it is a good idea to greet everyone you pass by. Remember to always use your right hand when eating, greeting, offering gifts, paying for items, etc. This is true in both Muslim and Christian regions, as the left hand is used throughout the country in conjunction with water in place of toilet paper. The ubiquitous coloured plastic teapots are filled with water and carried to the bathroom for “wiping.
” Women are often targets of extra attention from men, but catcalls and unwanted advances are not appropriate in Burkina, so don’t be afraid to refuse this attention. In general, people are very respectful to women and foreigners. You will very rarely see people scantily dressed, barechested or barefooted in Burkina. It is a conservative country and men will most often wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed shoes even in scorching heat. Women will not be seen with short skirts or very high heels except in some Ouaga night clubs. Shorts are also not common. However women, even poor ones, will always be coiffed and well-kept, manicured and pedicured, and men are well dressed as well. You rarely encounter squalor or excessive misery in Burkina.
With this, you had the primer on key facts about Burkina Faso, and key facts on culture and customs. Another important part of the culture is the local food and the local drinks. Make sure you read our posts on Burkina Faso food and drinks:
Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Burkina Faso? Please comment below.