Everyday Life in the Central African Republic

by Gundula Haage

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


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.


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.


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.


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

similar articles

Poorest nation, richest nation (Topic: Inequality)

The citizens’ radio

by Sylvie Panika

Journalists who report the truth in the Central African Republic are putting their lives on the line. The editor-in-chief of Radio Ndeke Luka explains why.


Poorest nation, richest nation (Topic: Inequality)

Escape Plans

by Kai Schnier

How do you encourage child soldiers to lay down their weapons? In central Africa, NGOs are using simply illustrated flyers and targeted radio broadcasts.


Fear of women (Topic: Fear of women)

A broken country

By Mina Jawad, Tareq Sydiq, Jasamin Ulfat-Seddiqzai, Negina Yari

Ethnic plurality, religious tensions, rival elites: Afghanistan is a nation of contradictions. Seven Questions dig below the surface


Poorest nation, richest nation (Topic: Inequality)

In god’s name

by Michaël Eustache Mounzatela

On why it is actually not religious differences that are dividing the Christians and Muslims of the Central African Republic. 


Poorest nation, richest nation (Topic: Inequality)

Power struggles in the Gulf

by Christopher Davidson

More than a year ago Qatar's neighbours imposed an embargo on the tiny state. What has happened since? 


Poorest nation, richest nation (Topic: Inequality)

“I am an optimist”

an interview with Moussa Abdoulaye

How does politics function in a crisis-torn state? Moussa Abdoulaye, special advisor to the Prime Minister, describes his day job.