Around the World: Day 8-North Africa and Respect

My cousin has spent years in Africa. Recently she has moved to North Africa. I knew she has a wealth of experiences. Bless you for sharing.. 🙂 She writes:

I sometimes think that I could write a book about cross cultural experiences, the funny thing is when I sit down to actually write a paragraph about the topic my mind goes blank, and I find I have trouble pin pointing a certain area to focus on, since it is so broad, and I have had too many different (and sometimes surprisingly similar) experiences. Enough preamble, let me get on with it.

Cultural experience, let me go with one that is recent, and that is living in a “male-dominated” culture where gender lines are clearly drawn, I didn’t realize how different it was until I moved from east Africa to north Africa, and found that even a friendly smile or a hi, or a simple conversation to anyone from the opposite gender is no longer acceptable, as I was used to it being. The lines between the genders are much more boldly drawn than I have ever experienced, and it is now seen as respectful for my husbands friends not to greet me extensively, anything more than a nod in my direction is crossing the line of respect in a friendship between men. It is quite the opposite in America where even hugging your friends wife, is acceptable, and anything less than a greeting and sincere interest can leave the woman in tears thinking her husbands friends don’t like her. Even in East Africa, it was quite appropriate to have a friendly handshake, and the appropriate greetings with my husband’s friends even if I casually meet them on the street. Here I was surprised to see my husband’s friend on the street one day, but instead of the greeting I was used to, I was ignored since my husband wasn’t with me. Before you think that this culture is cold and unfriendly let me add that within the same gender friendships are deep and greetings are lavish and affectionate.

Here is a pic that I think best illustrates my thoughts:, it is a typical evening in the park, and you can see the gender lines are kept in place even when relaxing/ socializing, sorry it is a little blurry) :o)



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