"If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life." - Marcus Garvey (Pan-African Political Activist and Legend)
When it comes to moving to Africa, developing relationships is of paramount importance. Whether it’s for business, education, or travel, understanding African relationships and culture helps to ensure a successful and meaningful stay on the continent. From navigating cultural differences and learning about African customs to developing African relationships and building meaningful connections, the key to a successful move to Africa is to take the time to develop relationships with its people.
Understanding Cultural Differences
Before developing relationships in Africa, it’s important to understand the cultural differences. African societies vary greatly from one country to the next, and understanding the cultural context and nuances of each society is essential for successful integration. From the role of elders and respect for authority to the importance of family and the value of hospitality, familiarizing oneself with African customs and traditions will help to foster meaningful relationships.
Nigeria is home to 371 different ethnic groups. There are 4 major groups: Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and Fulani and they differ heavily by culture and religion. It’s normal to see a Yoruba person “stood down” when greeting elders, but this is not done in other cultures.
The Benefits of Building Connections
Developing relationships in Africa offers a range of benefits. Not only is it important to build connections and relationships with the locals in order to feel more at home, but it’s also beneficial for gaining insight into the African way of life. Developing relationships with the locals allows for a deeper understanding of the culture and can open up new opportunities for work, travel, and learning. Additionally, having a network of people to rely on can help to make the transition to a new country easier and can help to reduce feelings of homesickness.
I moved to Nigeria deep into the JAPA culture. However, I found that the natives I was closest to, were the ones that had studied or once lived abroad for a short while but chose Nigeria as where they wanted to come back to work. Our values were more similarly aligned and the quality of their network allowed me to meet other locals of quality too.
How to Develop Relationships in Africa
When it comes to developing relationships in Africa, there are a few strategies to keep in mind. Showing respect for the people and culture, as well as taking the time to get to know the locals, can help to create meaningful connections. Additionally, learning about African values and engaging in conversations about topics that are meaningful to the locals can help to foster strong relationships.
I’ve previously written about how to make friends when you move back home here. There are many online and offline tactics to meet new people. I highly suggest making friends in your industry, via your hobbies and also through any religious means if applicable.
Socializing with Locals When Moving to Africa
When moving to Africa, it’s important to take the time to socialize with the locals. From attending cultural events and festivals to participating in local activities and engaging in conversation, there is a range of opportunities to connect with the people. Additionally, spending time with locals is a great way to learn about African culture and customs.
I’ve written about the CRAWL app which can show you where are the top spots to go to in Lagos every day. I also strongly suggest following @awelagos on Instagram, as they are great at showcasing a variety of hobbies, parties and activities to do each week.
Growing Familiarity with a New Culture
Developing relationships in Africa is not only important for socializing with the locals, but it’s also important for growing familiarity with a new culture. Spending time with locals can help to get an understanding of the African way of life, while also allowing for a deeper appreciation of the culture and customs. Additionally, gaining insight into the customs and values can help to build meaningful relationships.
Having spent my entire life in London, there were so many culture shocks that I faced when I moved to Lagos. I wasn’t prepared for the transactional nature of male and female relationships or the predominance that broken English has in communication amongst tribes.
Developing Lasting Relationships in Africa
Once relationships have been established, it’s important to continue to foster them in order to develop lasting relationships. This can be done by attending cultural events, participating in local activities, and engaging in meaningful conversations. Additionally, taking the time to build meaningful connections and learning about the African way of life will help to create lasting relationships.
My largest distinction between life in Nigeria and London is that Nigerians are highly communal. Not a day goes by without my phone not ringing or someone messaging to check in, whereas in the UK it could be weeks before I was even on the phone with someone. Also, we work and play within the same radius, whereas in London, we commute into the work environment, which limits the amount of time and energy we have to socialise on work days.
Making Friends in a Foreign Land
Making friends in a foreign land can be a daunting prospect, but it’s essential for successful integration. Taking the time to connect with the locals and engaging in meaningful conversations can help to create genuine friendships. Additionally, participating in local activities, attending cultural events, and engaging in conversations about topics that are meaningful to the locals can help to make friends and foster lasting relationships.
I was blessed to have quite a few friends in Lagos before I moved because I was regularly visiting beforehand. I recommend this as it prepares you for a softer landing. Moving to a new country can be very isolating, so whilst you make friends with locals, you can apply to join the I Moved Back Whatsapp Group for people that have moved back to Africa. It may help connect you with other diasporans on the same journey as you.
Learning from Locals in Africa
Learning from locals in Africa can help to build meaningful relationships and gain insight into the African way of life. Understanding how to run a business in Africa is best learnt from spending time with locals and asking them a wide range of questions. African consumers have very different habits from those in the West. For example, if you’re selling products then Satchestisation is something you may want to consider as it’s how the masses consume most of their needs and wants due to their lower income. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or book lunches with people that know the terrain, just ensure you also find a way to add value back to them. You can also watch or listen to the various interviews on the I Moved Back Podcast where entrepreneurs share invaluable tips on doing business in Africa.
The Key to a Successful Move to Africa
When moving to Africa, the key to a successful transition is to take the time to develop relationships with the locals.
Nothing great is ever achieved alone. You are undoubtedly going to face trials whilst assimilating into a new environment, so consistently communicating with locals or others that have moved back will ensure you don’t feel alone. Additionally, having a network of people to rely on can help to make the transition to a new country easier and can help to reduce feelings of homesickness.
The Impact of Developing Relationships in Africa
Developing relationships in Africa can have a positive impact on the individual, their business and the local community. By joining a local business network you can open up yourself to a wide range of new clients and partnerships that you would not have been exposed to if you were doing life alone. From one poolside party of a business network, I attained 3 Excel Master clients that needed valuation and other intense financial modelling work done.
When moving to Africa, developing relationships is critical. From understanding cultural differences and engaging in meaningful conversations to learning about African values, and consumer habits and taking part in local activities, the key to a successful move to Africa is to take the time to develop relationships with its people. Not only does it allow for a deeper understanding of the culture and customs, but it also allows for meaningful connections and friendships to be formed and increase your business profits.
Top Ten Key Takeaways
1. Understanding cultural differences is essential for successful integration.
2. Developing relationships in Africa offers a range of benefits.
3. Show respect for the people and culture and take the time to get to know the locals.
4. Attend cultural events and festivals, and participate in local activities.
5. Spend time with the locals to foster meaningful relationships.
6. Engage in conversations about topics that are meaningful to the locals.
7. Take the time to build meaningful connections and learn about the African way of life.
8. Participate in local activities and engage in conversations to make friends.
9. Learning from locals can help to gain a deeper understanding of the culture.
10. Developing relationships can open up new opportunities for work, travel, and learning.