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Mozambique Customs & Etiquettes


In Mozambique, greetings are lengthy and involve inquiring into the health of each other's family. People generally stand close together and are physically affectionate. Greeting people is very important, even if you don’t know them.

The courtesies and modes of address customary in Portugal and other Latin countries are still observed. Casual wear is acceptable. Formal dress is seldom required.

When it comes to waiting in lines, Mozambicans tend to stand very close, even brushing up against one another and thinking nothing of it.

Mozambicans tend to give their time freely. People love to be with people, having fun, visiting, spending time together; it is a very communal society. People seem to think it sad if you are spending time by yourself; even if you are reading, they prefer you do it in a room with others.

In terms of punctuality, it is expected in most professional situations but in social situations it is not generally a priority. Socialising is a huge part of Mozambican society and takes precedence over set schedules and deadlines. For example, if you don’t stay for tea it is very rude, even when you have other obligations.

In the rural areas, a woman’s role is generally taking care of the home, cooking, etc. However, some women have employment and many work in the fields more often than men. In the urban areas, more women tend to work but many still stay at home and take care of the family. The further from the capital, the more traditional the roles are. Women are not seen drinking in public as frequently as men. Women usually cover their thighs as the thigh is seen by many as a very private part of the female body. It is often expected that foreign women will behave differently.

Use both hands to give and receive objects, and never use only the left hand.

Bargaining is expected and locals will often give foreigners marked-up prices. Two or three times the actual price is common. At the markets and bazaars, it’s best if you like something to remain calm and pretend you don’t like it, start to walk away and wait until they call you back. Then you’ll get a good price.

Meeting & Greeting

A handshake with the right hand is a common greeting among men, in most situations. Handshakes are often given with both hands or with the left hand touching/holding the right upper arm. Handshakes tend to be energetic and very often linger a bit. Good friends may engage in light hugs with pats on the shoulders. It is also appropriate for two men to walk hand in hand in public. This does not have any implication on their sexual preferences; it's just a sign of friendship and closeness.

Among women, a handshake, verbal greeting, or nod of acknowledgement is common in most situations. Good friends and family will often exchange kisses on each cheek.

As for greetings between men and women, a handshake or nod of acknowledgement is common in most situations. In rural areas the nod is more common while in urban areas it is the handshake. Good friends and family often exchange kisses on each cheek. Also, for women, unless you are dating a man (or want to date the man) or married to him, it is best not to touch him during conversations because he will most likely take it to mean that you are interested in him.

Do note that it is inappropriate to touch someone’s leg during conversations unless you know them well.

In general, direct eye contact is acceptable among member of the same gender and social status. When talking to an elder, many people tend to look down out of respect. This can also be true with women when speaking with men.

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