Everyday Life in the Central African Republic

by Gundula Haage

Poorest nation, richest nation (Issue III+IV/2018)


Greetings

In Sangho, you say “nzonî gango” (welcome) or “bara âla, bara mo” (I greet you) when you meet a local. If you’re a close friend, you will also shake hands and click your fingers. This gesture is known as “fango ngborô”. It stands for the closeness between siblings and is a sign of a warm friendship. 

Charming people

In this area, older widowers are often socially isolated. So you often see younger women teasing them with unexpectedly flirtatious banter. They may say things like “Mbï ke wâlï tî mo” (I am your woman) or “mû na mbï nguinza tî gala” (give me the money from the market) to raise a laugh or persuade the old fellow to tell them a story. There is no such comparable relationship between older women and young local men.

Marching

When there is something to celebrate, the central African locals like to march – no matter if it is a christening, Christmas or the celebration of the payment of a dowry. Most of the time the marchers don’t travel more than 100 meters but they certainly dress as festively as possible for the walk. Getting dressed up in splendid outfits and marching together is the way locals show how happy they are about the occasion.

Death

In order to farewell the deceased person in an appropriate manner, many ethnic groups have the widow or widower participate in a number of rituals up until the day of burial, many of them to do with deprivation of some kind. For example, among the Gbanziri and Banda people, the partner of the dead person will sleep on the ground next to the corpse and must fast until the person has been buried.

At the funeral, a priest or imam will clarify whether anyone among the assembled mourners still owes the deceased anything, If there is a debt, the debtor must promise to pay it back to the survivors.

Bargaining

In order to get respect on the street, one must always bargain a price down, whether that is in the market or arranging a fare with a motorcycle taxi. It is taken for granted that you will question the first price given. In fact, many buyers will launch into dramatic speeches about the price being overly high. 

With information from Michaël Eustache Mounzatela and Moussa Abdoulaye



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