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 Uganda

Uganda has a fairly conservative Christian/Muslim based society. It is generally not considered acceptable for women to wear skimpy clothing or to have overt displays of sexuality. The only exception is in certain night life situations in Kampala. Most Ugandans go to church / mosque regularly and consider religion an important part of a moral society.

Uganda Culture photo

Photo by US Army Africa

Never criticize religion in presence of an Ugandan! You will not be taken seriously if you wear shorts outside the obvious tourist destinations and most Ugandan adults would never wear shorts except if playing sport. Use a pair of light trousers to blend in better. Most women wear skirts in rural areas, but trousers are acceptable in cities and larger towns.

In central Kampala women can dress pretty much like in any western big city. Women dressing smartly in tight sleeveless tops, tight jeans, or dresses or skirts that do not cover the knees is a very common sight here. As a foreigner you do not need to avoid dressing up – although for safety reasons it is wise to avoid wearing expensive jewellery or similar accessories. A handshake is the most common form of greeting. If your hands are wet or dirty you may offer your wrist instead of hand. Don’t be surprised if you see two men holding hands. This is not a sign of homosexuality (which is forbidden by law and is indeed punishable), but rather of friendship.

With this, you had the primer on key facts about Uganda, 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 Uganda food and drinks:

Local food you should try in Uganda and No miss drinks in Uganda.

Other tips that you’d like to share on mistakes to avoid in Uganda? Please comment below.