Sunday, June 24, 2018

5 Observations About the Culture of East Africa

Hello from East Africa!
I have been here for a week, and I'm going to try to share with you some observations I have made about the culture. Please note that these are by no means facts, they are by no means correct, they are simply my observations as an American teenage girl coming into a new culture. Also, it is worth noting that I am in a large coastal city, so these are by no means applicable to other settings in East Africa. They have been made about the culture in this city and are not meant to be generalizations.

1. Greetings. People love to greet each other. Passing on the street you may exchange several greetings with someone you don't know. I know three or four different greetings in Swahili, thanks to the guards at the apartment, and I use them several times a day.
2. Tea. If you ever come to Africa, expect to drink a lot of tea. I had nine cups of tea in a period of five days. My favorite kind so far has been spiced chai, probably seven of those nine cups. Hospitality is huge, and a big part of that is offering tea. And since I don't want to offend, if course I say yes. :)
3. Pit Toliets. No amount of explaining can properly train you for your first encounter with a pit toliet. Especially when you realize that the stalls next to you have Western toliets. And that there is no bucket of water to use to "flush" the toliet. And that you are taking twice as long as your friends because this is awkward and uncomfortable and you just don't know what to do with yourself.
4. Driving. It might be best to just buckle up, close your eyes, and pray for safety. Four way stops? Merely a suggestion. Staying on your side of the road? Not when there is a bump in the way. Pedestrians? I'm sure they will move out of  the way!
5. Crowds. Just go with the flow. When the crowd is ready to move, you better be ready as well. Don't get trampled, keep moving, and find a place to step aside and make a phone call later.

Also, if you ever come to East Africa, be prepared to take off your shoes, wear a skirt, get sticky and dusty, and sleep under a mosquito net. Oh yes, and roosters in the middle of the day, call to prayers at 2 am, and birds singing outside your window at 3:45 am. It is hot and humid, but I love being around new people and new cultures.
Side note, I apologize that there are no pictures. For whatever reason I can't upload them. I promise to post a bunch of pictures when I get home.


  1. Sounds like quite a trip! Keep us updated; we've been praying for you!

  2. Pit toilets huh? Even worse when you drop your car keys down the hole. I can tell you that story when you get back.

  3. What’s up with the picture posting? Hmmmm...
    It’s ok, your words are painting a great picture in my head!

    1. I'm glad my words are painting good pictures!