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cultural norms and rules in Burkina Faso

Cultural Norms and Rules in Burkina Faso


Traveling to a foreign country can be an exciting and eye-opening experience. It allows us to immerse ourselves in new cultures, explore different ways of life, and broaden our horizons. However, it’s important to remember that each country has its own set of rules and cultural norms that should be respected. In this article, we will explore the rules and cultural norms of Burkina Faso, a beautiful West African nation that is rich in history and vibrant in culture.

Key Elements

Element 1: Greetings and Etiquette

One of the most important aspects of Burkinabe culture is greetings. It is customary to greet people with a warm handshake and a smile. Men often follow the handshake with a slight bow, while women may curtsy or nod. It is considered impolite to rush through greetings, so take your time and show genuine interest in the person you are meeting.

Another important cultural norm is showing respect for elders. In Burkinabe society, elders are highly esteemed and should be greeted first in any social gathering. It is also customary to use respectful language when speaking to someone older or in a position of authority.

Element 2: Dress Code

The dress code in Burkina Faso is generally conservative, especially in rural areas. Both men and women are expected to dress modestly and avoid wearing revealing clothing. When visiting religious sites or traditional villages, it is advisable to cover your shoulders and knees out of respect for the local customs.

Element 3: Food and Dining Etiquette

Burkinabe cuisine is diverse and flavorful, and mealtimes are an important part of the culture. When invited to someone’s home for a meal, it is customary to bring a small gift, such as a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers, as a token of appreciation. It is also polite to wait for the host to begin eating before you start.

In Burkina Faso, it is common to eat with your hands, using the right hand only. However, if you prefer to use utensils, it is perfectly acceptable. Remember to keep your left hand in your lap while eating, as using it to handle food is considered unclean.

Element 4: Traditional and Religious Practices

Burkina Faso is a diverse country with various ethnic groups, each with their own traditional practices and beliefs. Respect for cultural and religious customs is essential when visiting different regions.

For example, in the Mossi region, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a house or a sacred place. In the Muslim-majority areas, visitors should dress modestly and be mindful of local customs during Ramadan, such as not eating or drinking in public during the fasting hours.

Tips for Traveling

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Before traveling to Burkina Faso, familiarize yourself with the local customs, traditions, and any specific rules or laws that may apply. This will help you navigate the country with ease and show respect for the local culture.
  • Subtip: Consider learning a few basic phrases in the local language, such as greetings and polite expressions. This will go a long way in building positive connections with the locals.
  1. Dress Appropriately: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to dress modestly and respectfully, especially when visiting religious sites or rural areas. Opt for lightweight and breathable clothing in accordance with the local weather conditions.

  2. Show Respect for Cultural Sites: Burkina Faso is home to many historical and cultural sites, such as the ancient ruins of Loropeni and the sacred village of Tiebele. When visiting these places, be respectful of the sites and any rules or restrictions that may be in place.

  3. Practice Safe Travel: Like any other destination, it is important to practice common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid displaying expensive belongings, keep your valuables secure, and be cautious when using public transportation.

  4. Seek Local Advice: If you’re unsure about any customs or rules, don’t hesitate to seek advice from locals or your hotel staff. They will be more than willing to help guide you and ensure you have a pleasant and culturally sensitive experience.


Please note that the information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is always advisable to consult official travel websites and authorities, as well as seek professional advice, when planning a trip to Burkina Faso or any other foreign country. Rules and cultural norms may vary and change over time, so staying updated is crucial.

By understanding and respecting the rules and cultural norms of Burkina Faso, you can have a more immersive and meaningful travel experience. Embrace the diversity, be open-minded, and enjoy the beauty that this vibrant country has to offer. Safe travels!