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The cultures of Zambia

lozi people kuomboka ceremony

The Lozi people in a brilliant Kuomboka Ceremony

Zambia contains a rich mix of cultures with nuances and social norms that differ between regions. Practically speaking, however, there are just a handful of social conventions that you need to be aware of and a friendly attitude and a dose of deference will smooth out most faux pas.

The first thing to note is that Zambia is relatively conservative and predominantly Christian, and many views and attitudes reflect this. Homosexuality is illegal and although it’s overlooked within the confines most lodges, open displays of same-sex affection can theoretically land you in prison. Even public affection between heterosexual couples is frowned upon and revealing clothing of any kind (including shorts for men) is considered improper. Keep your clothing choices sensible and practical, and avoid camo and military fatigues. These in particular are not considered appropriate civilian attire.

Interactions between Zambians are unhurried and courteous. If you need assistance, or are asking for directions, be sure to greet the person first. Politeness and genuine interest will get you far in Zambia. Ask how people are doing first, and don’t jump right in with questions.


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