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Country Profile: Kenya

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Cultural Etiquette


Cultural Dos and Taboos


1. Women may want to avoid direct eye contact with men, and visa-versa, as this will seem a sexual innuendo.

2. Try to avoid initiating conversation about sex, politics and spouses. Conversation about children, occupation and Kenya or your homeland is fine.

3. Traditional dinners may have the men eating first, then the women with the children eating last. The children will not eat until adults are finished and will most likely be eating left over food so refrain from stuffing yourself too much.

4. The left hand should not touch food or gifts, and should not be used in a handshake or used to wave.

5. It is very important that you never ask a person a question without first greeting them and asking a polite question about themselves such as "Hello, how are you doing today?" then, "What time do you have?" To forget this small, but necessary, polite question, will offend the person being addressed and the person may not respond thinking you are rude.

6. In the market place, bargaining is essential. If one refuses to bargain, he or she may offend the vendor. The act of bargaining is important because the human interaction between individuals is important. Vendors like you to know you are not dealing with machines, and when all is said and done, that they in fact are "giving you a good deal". However, not all sales people will bargain, especially those in shops away from the market place.

7. Always ask permission to photograph the locals. They may want you to pay them for posing.