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How to Greet People in Africa

Africa is home to 54 countries with over 3 000 ethnic and cultural groups, each with a unique identity and expression. Across the 30.37 million square kilometer landmass of Africa, over 2 000 different languages are spoken. Such remarkable diversity gives rise to a captivating array of greetings, varying between regions. At EDU Africa, we are fortunate to be operating in 15 African nations. Here are some valuable insights on greetings within these countries.


Benin is home to a diverse population, with over 60 ethnic groups contributing to the cultural tapestry. The most spoken language is French, but with over 60 ethnic groups, greetings differ from area to area. When it comes to men greeting men, the standard greeting is a right handshake. This is similar for women, but a kiss on the cheek is also acceptable. Men and women tend to also greet each other verbally.


Botswana is renowned for its diverse wildlife, vast landscapes, and commitment to conservation. While the most spoken language is English, Setswana is the national language in Botswana, with minor differences in dialect around the country. Knowing and using a bit of Setswana always helps and the Batswana will be pleased when you make the effort. Here are some basic phrases in Setswana

  • Hello – Dumela 
  • How are you? – le Rae? O tsogile jang?
  • Goodbye – Go Siame 


Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, is one of the last remaining monarchies in the world. Alongside English, Swazi is the national language and the most spoken. Here are a few common greetings in Swazi

  • Hello – Sawubona
  • How are you? – Unjani?
  • I am fine, thank you – Ngikhona, ngiyabonga
  • Stay well – Sala kahle
  • Travel Safely (As a goodbye) – Hamba Kahle
  • Good evening – Lishonile


Commonly referred to as the Gateway to Africa, this country has a reputation for its warm hospitality and friendly people. While the most spoken language is English, Akan is the most widely spoken local language. Here are some common greetings in Ghana:

  • Morning – Anopa
  • Afternoon – Awia 
  • Evening – Anadwo 


Kenya is home to a rich cultural heritage, with over 40 ethnic groups contributing to its dynamic traditions, art, and music. In Kenya, the most spoken languages are Swahili and English. Here are a few phrases to help you during your time in Kenya

  • Hello – Jambo
  • Good morning – Habari ya Asubuhi
  • Goodnight – Lala Salama
  • How are you? – Habari gani?
  • I am fine – Nzuri
  • Thank you – Asante


Known as the Kingdom in the Sky due to its high-altitude terrain, Lesotho boasts stunning mountain landscapes, including the famous Drakensberg and Maloti mountain ranges. The national and official languages are English and Sesotho. Here are some common Sesotho phrases:

  • Good day – Dumela 
  • Good morning – Mmoro 
  • Hello – Helele
  • Good evening – Fonane 
  • How are you? – O kae? 
  • Have a safe journey – Tsela tsweu 


In Malawi, it is customary to greet everyone with a handshake. In rural areas, it is a sign of respect if you lightly grasp your right forearm with your left hand. The most spoken language is English however, Chichewa is the national language. Here are the common greetings in Malawi:

  • Welcome – Takulandirani
  • How are you? – Muli bwanji?
  • Good morning – Mwadzuka bwanji
  • Good afternoon – Mwaswera bwanji
  • Good evening – Madzulo abwino
  • Good night – Usiku wabwino
  • Goodbye – Tapita


Greetings are exceptionally important in Mozambique, where you should greet everyone with a nod of acknowledgment. In Mozambique, men greet each other by shaking hands, with the left hand placed on the upper arm of the other person. Women can also shake hands but it is sometimes frowned upon when speaking to men. In Mozambique, the most spoken language is Portuguese, therefore, greetings in Portuguese are appropriate.


Namibia’s vast deserts showcase breathtaking dunes that stretch as far as the eye can see. In Namibia, the most spoken language is Oshiwambo, even though English is also commonly used. Many Namibians greet one another by referring to each other as brothers and sisters. Handshakes are also very common as are hugs amongst friends. 


It is common practice to greet someone by shaking hands however, in Rwanda, if you are meeting someone for the first time, it is best to just wave and say “hi”. The most spoken language in Rwanda is Kinyarwanda but people also speak French and English. Here is a list of daily phrases used in Rwanda.

  • Hello – Muraho/Bite 
  • How are you – Amakuru
  • Good morning – Mwaramutse
  • Good afternoon – Mwiriwe
  • Good evening – Mwiriwe neza 
  • Goodbye – Murabeho 

South Africa 

Located at the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa is a diverse and culturally rich nation. The most common greeting in South Africa is a handshake accompanied by eye contact and a smile. With 11 official languages, Zulu is the most spoken language in the country. English is also widely understood and spoken. 


Home to the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, Tanzania offers adventurous opportunities for trekking and safari experiences. Like Kenya, the most spoken languages in Tanzania are Swahili and English, therefore the phrases used in Kenya can also be used in Tanzania.


In Togo, it is customary to greet people with a handshake or by placing your right hand over your heart. It is also considered polite to inquire about the well-being of the person you are greeting. The most spoken language in Togo is French, but Mina and Ewe are also popular. Here is a list of daily phrases used in Togo:

  • Hello – E-fo-ah
  • Goodbye (safe journey) – Hede nyuie
  • Goodbye (we’ll meet again) – Mia dogo


Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda is blessed with diverse landscapes, including lush rainforests, sprawling savannas, and the iconic Lake Victoria. The most spoken language is Luganda. Here is a list of daily phrases used in Uganda

  • Hi – Chi 
  • Good morning – Wasuze otya nno
  • Good afternoon – Osiibye otya nno 
  • How are you? – Oli Otya? 
  • Good night (when going to bed) – Sula bulungi 
  • Goodbye – Weeraba 


Zambia offers breathtaking landscapes and thrilling adventure activities. In Zambia, it is commonplace to shake hands when greeting, however, you can also communicate without physical contact. While the most spoken language in Zambia is English, Bemba and Nyanja/Chichewa are also widely spoken. Here are a few common phrases

  • Hello – Shani 
  • Goodbye – Shalapo
  • How are you? – Uli Shani?


In Zimbabwe, the common greeting is a firm handshake with the right hand. Greetings are performed in age hierarchy – it’s customary for the younger to be the first to greet the older. Greetings are usually followed by a brief inquiry into the other person’s well-being before proceeding with the conversation. The most commonly spoken language in Zimbabwe is Shona. Here are a few phrases: 

  • Hello (general greeting) – Mhoro (singular) / Mhoroi (plural)
  • How are you? – Wakadini zvako? (singular) / Makadini zvenyu? (plural)
  • Goodbye – Sara zvakanaka (singular)/ Sarayi zvakanaka (plural)

Exploring diverse greetings in Africa fosters cultural understanding and connections with locals. Welcome to the vibrant and diverse world of African greetings as you embark on your unforgettable transformative learning journey!