In traditional African culture, visitors entered the hosts’ house through the main door. The back door, which also served a pen for sheep, was rarely used as it was considered a taboo to enter a house through one door and exit through the other.
However, the urban population now welcomes visitors through the back door that usually leads to the kitchen. The front door is only opened where there is very important visitor or when there is a function in the house. It is no longer a taboo to walk into a house through one door and walk out through the next. City dwellers expect their guests to leave their shoes at the entrance, though they tend to put up dramatized objection to the guest toking off their shoes. The gesture is often Ignored by the guest.
Tourists come across diverse table manners in the North Rift as much as they do its people. Each family sets its own rules of etiquette used while eating. In most religious families, prayer is said before meals. As a guest you may be requested to say the grace before the meal. Some families teach their children to keep their hands on the table. Resting your hands on the table for an entire meal is polite. Elbows, however, are never allowed on the table.
in many Muslim and Arabic cultures, people use only right hand to eat. The left hand, traditionally used for hygiene, and is considered unclean. In some families, diners share one plate and eat with their right hand. Some families eat on the carpet or mat with the soles of your feet hidden as revealing them is deemed impolite.
Before the meal you’re expected to wash your hands. Licking your fingers and belching after a meal is considered bad table manners.
North Rift is the agricultural center of the world, Dietary habits are influenced by the family’s cultural background. Restaurants in the region serve o choice of continental cuisine from an a la carte. In addition to local cuisine, restaurants offer diverse European and Asian cuisine derived from substantial influence by European and Asian settlers and farmers in the region.
Most restaurants take minimum of an hour for food so don’t worry about being on time when invited for a meal. Lateness is a norm in this pan of the world. Where possible, especially for nyama choma (BBQ meat meals), call ahead as food is prepared to order. Taste your food before adding salt it’s most likely already salted.
In some homes finishing everything on your plate suggests that your hosts didn’t cook or serve enough food. While in others, leaving o small amount on your plate symbolizes that you’ve had your fill and acknowledge your host’s generosity
Ugali served with managu (greens) and/or beef stew a favorite traditional food in North Rift. Rice served with beef is also commonly served on the table in many homes, Other dietary options include, but not limited to, Githeri (a mix of maize and beans) and rice accompanied kidney beans. Rice and githeri is not eaten with a fork. Spoons are the preferred choice of culture. Ugali, with its, accompaniment, is often eaten by hand.
Clothes and Shoes
The common dress Code in region is long trousers, a shirt and coat or during the colder season some layer up with a sweater over their coat. During the rainy season, those who can afford, wear gumboots. Women wear dresses and thick woolen sweaters or winter jackets. When working in the farm you find women in gumboots especially during rainy seasons. When serving guests, it’s habitually for women to tie a lesso around their waist.
Men working in offices are frequently in suit, shirt and tie. Women wear skirts with a matching top during hot seasons- colorful dresses are a popular option. Commuters travelling into city centers from up country homes tend to have two sets of shoes with them — one for the commute/ walking and the other set for the office.
It is polite to ask people for permission before taking their photographs. No photographs of sensitive buildings or residential places without permission. Talk to the guard stationed at the entrances before you start taking the pictures.
Similar to the West, the primary eating cutlery in restaurants is a knife and fork including a spoon for eating soup. The fork is held with left hand and knife held with right hand. The fork is often held the tines down. When no knife is being used, the fork can be held with tines up. The knife is used to cut food or help guide food on to the fork.
Diners, the world over, have a set of decorum for the table, and would instinctively, watch other diners from the corner of their eye to catch those breaking the laws. This dining culture is often an influence by cultures from all over the world. Below is a list of some of those dos and don’ts when sitting a table for meals in restaurants.
- Lay your napkin on your laps.
- Chew with your mouths closed.
- Keep your phone off the table. Set it silent or vibrate mode.
- Take part in the dinner conversation.
- Don’t put your elbows on the table while eating.
- Don’t reach across the table for something. Politely ask for it to be passed.
Tipping your waiter is not obligatory. It is an incentive given to a waiter for good services. However, over the recent years due to tipping by both locals and tourists it has become on expectation. Watchmen/ Guards may ask for a tip on your way out of the establishment. Some airport and supermarket attendants often ask for tips if they help carry your bags/shopping or push your trolley to your car.