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Angola Customs & Etiquettes


In general, dress codes are not strict. In some areas, women are supposed to wear long-hemmed skirts, but this rule is not strictly applied. In many communities, people do not look each other in the eye while speaking. Younger people are expected to address elders politely. The ability to speak well is a highly admired trait, in both men and women. In some communities, men do not eat with women and children.

Meeting & Greeting

The most common greeting is the handshake. Most people use the right hand. Close friends may embrace, kiss, or offer a friendly back slap. The greeting process can take some time and should never be rushed.

It's best to always greet elders first. It is also customary to bow when introduced to someone who is obviously older or has a more senior position. This is often the case in rural than in urban areas.

Communication Style

Most Angolans want to please others and as a result have a tendency to say what they think the other person wants to hear so it is often difficult to get definite answers to questions, especially if the response would be negative. You may get a ‘yes’ when the answer is actually ‘no’.

A good idea is to ask for specifics so that both sides have the same understanding of what statements mean.

In rural areas, women do not tend to look the other person directly in the eye. This tends to be a less pronounced with younger Angolans and in the capital city, Luanda.

Gift Giving Etiquette

If you are invited to an Angolan's home, bringing fruit, flowers, or chocolates to the host is a good idea. A small gift for children is always appreciated. Gifts are not always opened when received.

Dining Etiquette & Table Mannerism

Angolans are extremely hospitable and enjoy entertaining friends and family in their homes. In Luanda, they may also entertain in restaurants or cafés since they have adopted more Western ideas about socialising.

The Angolan approach to entertaining retains much of the Portuguese influence, including the time of dinner invitations which are often 8 pm. Dress as you would in the office. Dressing well demonstrates respect towards your hosts. Shake hands with each guest individually. Try not to discuss business in social situations.

Food is often served from a communal bowl. Use the serving spoons to scoop food from the communal bowl on to your individual bowl.

Hierarchy dictates that the eldest person is the first to take food from the communal plate. If offered the last serving of an item, offer an initial refusal and expect your host to then offer the item a second or third time, in which case you may accept.





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