Local social conventions

There are some Zambian social conventions which might take the westerner by surprise. Although handshakes are commonplace when meeting an old friend or being introduced to a new one, it is also standard to continue clasping the others hand throughout the conversation. In addition, it is quite normal to see grown men walking down the street holding hands without ever a thought to them being anything other than just good friends. Although Zambian cities are quite westernised, it is important to adhere to certain social conventions when in the rural areas. This is especially important for woman so as not to offend; please cover your shoulders and your knees (a sarong is perfectly acceptable).

If you ask how long it will be until the next bus, you should know the difference between now, just now, and now now. They may seem similar, but to an African, these mean completely different things with 'now' meaning anytime in the next few hours, 'just now' meaning anytime in the next few days and 'now now' meaning anytime in the next few minutes. It is inevitable that during your stay in Zambia, and throughout Africa, you will hear the saying 'Africa Time'. In a land of few watches and even fewer clocks, you will notice that punctuality is not of the utmost importance. Don't rush, just sit back and certainty don't stress when your ticket needs to be written out in triplicate before you are able to board the bus. This is perfectly normal... just relax and get chatting to your neighbour - they'll love to be given the opportunity to talk to you. Oh! And one last thing to note... 'please' and 'thank you' are not words used in many African languages so don't consider their exclusion rude, just take the huge toothy grin you'll receive to be thank you enough.