Some of the Habits that easily offend others or make us stand out as Dim-Wits


For a change, I want to steer fellow bloggers from politics and provoke a debate on some of our inherent bad habits that easily offend others or simply make us stand out as dim-wits!

Picking your nose

I almost made a friend furious one day when I refused to shake his hand. Why don’t you want to shake my hand? He demanded. I am sorry I can’t because you are just from picking your nose, I replied firmly.He looked at his hand and quickly thrust it in one of his pockets making everyone around us burst into hearty laughter! Hey look at that girl in the corner, someone chipped in suddenly before laughter could even peter out. The girl was busy poking her index finger in her nostrils as she conversed with her male companion excitedly. How many people do you see picking their nostrils daily? Imagine the amount of bacteria that these people help pass around each time there’s bodily contact. Picking your nose isn’t only unhygienic but can also be very offensive in some cultures; so next time you want to poke your nose, think twice!

Standing closely behind someone in queues

Not so long ago, I was standing in a long queue waiting to withdraw some money from an ATM. It was month end and a long queue was slowly forming up behind us as more people eager to get their pay joined us.As a petite white lady stepped in front of the ATM, a seemingly impatient fat gentleman surged forward literally breathing heavily behind the poor lady’s neck. “Do you mind stepping back, I need some privacy?” she asked the gentleman, politely. The man mumbled protest and stepped backwards. Why do we want to stand so close in the queues? This can be very inappropriate especially if the queue has a mixture of women and men.

Leaving leftovers scattered all over tables

On a recent visit to London, a friend took me out to McDonalds’ for a meal. I was quickly heading towards exit after our sumptuous dinner when I noticed that my friend had actually remained behind to pick our leftovers! You can imagine the shame written on my face. When I eventually got back home, I couldn’t help establishing that leaving leftovers scattered all over table is common in Zambia.If you went to Hungry Lion for instance, you’d notice that most people leave empty cans of beverages or bones scattered all over the tables as if expecting someone to come and clean after them. Next time
you stop to grab a snack at any eating place, please ensure that you clean up your mess.

File:MMD cadres queue to shake president Banda’s hands in Chipata, Zambia

Disposing off litter indiscriminately

Despite the concerted Keep Zambia clean and healthy campaign, most people still continue disposing off litter indiscriminately let alone from fast moving vehicles, you expect to get rid of those plastic materials if you dump them in the middle of nowhere, mother nature? This can be a very serious case in certain countries. Some time back, a friend was driving back from a neighbouring country with his family. Along the way, his kids were eating and throwing litter through the windows. Apparently, they were spotted by an oncoming vehicle and the driver went ahead and reported them to appropriate authorities. When they finally got to the border, they were ordered by some uncompromising police officers to go back and pick up their litter and take it back with them to Zambia! You can imagine the trouble of driving back hundreds of kilometres to pick up a few bones and plastics from the bush. It is high time authorities and parents started educating the children the importance of keeping our surroundings clean.

Failure to greet or acknowledge customer

When you walk in most shops in Zambia,you are likely to be greeted by lukewarm and distant shop owners or attendants. Most of the time, customers would just walk into a shop,pick up what they want and off they leave without any exchange of words. In Tanzania for example, the words “karibu sana” (you’re
very welcome) are always ready on the lips of shop owners or attendants. Come on people; we’re human beings, let’s talk to each other! Next time we step into your shop, we expect a warm welcome otherwise we’ll take our money elsewhere.

Failure to give tips

Arriving at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport one day, I observed that the porters were giving the blacks a cold shoulder and falling all over themselves to help bazungus carry their katundu. The only black person they offered to help carry their bags was a gentleman I later identified as proprietor of Grizzly mining in Kitwe,the famous Gounassi. Upon challenging one of the porters why this was so, he revealed that it’s only bazungus or Mr. Gounassi who gave them tips. This is even common in most hotels and upmarket restaurants; waiters would rather serve bazungus first before they
attend to the blacks because of the former’s generosity. Of course many of us may not have the same economic muscle as Gounassi or bazungus but giving tips won’t definitely leave us much poorer!

Do you know of any bad habits not mentioned here? Please let us know.

By a disgusted citizen!


    • Offending someone immediately after reading an article against offending others. Do you use your a-hole to listen, or what?

    • Spot on Beleg and well said…kindly take it to heart the difference in levels concerning bloggers mental power on this forum…others just don’t deserve a response mostly when they imply that social media is a qualification or measure a person’s exposure based on internet access (Blessings i believe is the name of the culprit)!…enjoy your weekend Beleg…

  1. This is a very nice article and I hope people can learn from it.Personally I find someone humming and talking to themselves very offensive. I think people must never make unnecessary noise when you are in close quarters with others

    • Judas have you never heard of ‘thinking aloud’ ? I encounter it all the time here in the US. Am guilty of it at times myself.

  2. Excellent article. A few comments.
    Picking nose: very common dirty habit. I remember explaining to my incredulous uncle at a hotel in Kitwe in the early 1980s that it was very dirty and demeaning to do so.
    Lack of courtesy: Zambians are generally rude, unbecoming and are indecent.
    No Tips: sadly this is a legacy of UNIP. Tipping was banned during the dictatorship.
    Queues: Part of courtesy. One admires the orderly queuing, everywhere, overseas.
    Importance of queuing should be taught right from kindergarten.

    • In America I have seen people picking noses in public, spitting carelessly and the worst? Flatulating in public even in an enclosed space like a train car. Disgusting, really disgusting.

  3. Nice article.I had a similar incidence at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe.It was only after i left the hall to look for a trolley when a porter came to my aid.I ended up being five dollar dollar poor after his “abakulu besu nimwebo bosses mpeniko iya drink”.

  4. Another bad habit: staring.
    Some people tend to look at others, especially women intently, even turning to continue the staring. Well in developed countries such behaviour can result in arrest for sexual assault, yes, sexual assault!

  5. There is only one shop I always feel welcomed when I am out of Lusaka and this is Choma SPARS, the staff in this shop are just of a different kind you are always welcomed with a greeting and a smile on the tills.

    • You are Tonga, its difficult to be rude to a Tonga, because they are annoyed already, best is to kindly welcome them.

  6. How about the idiosyncratic use of the word DULL. 

    If I do not agree with you then, you are dull. The english would be very very surprised at the Zambian meaning of the word.

  7. Beleg have to agree with you on that one. I strongly believe we are all created intelligent.that’s what the Bible says.

  8. One of the dirtiest habit in Zambia is that of some people who will light up their cigarette on a bus full of passengers.

  9. Who is this idddiot messing up our website?? Nothing above is provocative, you are just a sillly, pathetic, pompous son of a Zambian PF cadre.
    It could be G. Chella who wrote this. Sounds very much State House language.

  10. How about the use of the word ‘boring’. Ati, am leaving work, it’s boring. Or, this party is boring meaning – there are no beers.

    Zambians, please STOP missusing the word boring.
    I definitely hate the idea of standing too close to me in an situation especially when lining up for services, say…at that damn RATSA office. I absolutely hate that habit and most Zambians don’t even use deodorant. Ninshi ba nunka my mu ma arpits. Yukk.

  11. Another common bad manners ( Playing loud music from your phone in Public).use head phones (Biting your finger nails in public )- use nail cutter while at home or razor blade  as per tradition. (Producing sound when trying to remove something  between your teeth),next time  use tooth pick or as per tradition ichipyango- broom 

  12. oh mispronunciation of the word ‘thousand’. I hate it when am talking to someone and they say southand meaning thousand.

    No mater how many times I correctly say it back to them, they still repeat it.

    Also, it’s not ‘repeat it again’ please mwebantu. It’s either just REPEAT, chapwa.

    • Some common mistakes in English are even made by native speakers of the language.I hear ‘repeat again’ all the time here in the US.I heard a radio DJ say ‘some few songs’. Some mistakes will always be there. As for people saying ‘southand’. It has more to do with someone’s native tongue than a deliberate mispronunciation. That’s why some Orientals can’t say ‘wrong’.They say ‘long’. People from Luapula province can’t say ‘hand’. They say ‘and’. There’s even an example in the bible of a life or death test based on the correct pronunciation of a word ‘Shibboleth’. Read this interesting account in the book of Judges chapter twelve and verse six.

  13. Some of the irritating things you have pinpointed are true but others are not. For example the giving of tips, go to Japan, you will never find tips. So are they bad people?  Clearing the table by customers in most countries of Europe is mainly due to high cost of labour. Eating places owners do not have enough labour to cater for table clearing, so customers are expected to clear the tables. Unlike in Europe, the labour cost in Zambia is  low , hence the employing of table clearing workers. The other fact is the already adopted culture in Zambia . try to let your customer clear the table themselves, you will lose them to your friends. So, please, let us analyse issues critically rather than imposing what you saw some where on your fellow country people.

    Peace & Prosperity to Zambia.

  14. Personally I have no problem with anyone standing closer to me-especially if it´s a lady!I just have one bone of contention:Zambians-Africans please please learn to use desoderant,roll on ,bodyspray….whatever you call that stuff you use under your armpits.We are tired of people telling us how smelly Africans are!!

  15. i beg to differ on a number of aspect in that am looking at this frm a relativist point of view for example its acceptable behavour in the Japanese culture to sleep in public when tired be it a meeting on a bus but that does not necessarily account for a bad behavour in the japanese culture but an American ignorant of cultural differences will not deem it of Proxemics. that account for interpersonal distance – how close you stand in a line in an elevator or sitting next to a person research shows that you might not be aware asians ( japan, tailand) have a higher need for interpersonal distance as compared to americans or belgians Africans and Arabs have the shortest need( in yo pic just look at the way the indian is standing this is culturally influenced) it does not ….

  16. in any way account for bad habit unless you mean to say what is defined as bad in western world is a standard for you. if you go to netherlands a person who takes you out will not buy a beer for you. you each have to pay for your own beer its called a dutch treat culterally defined yet in Zambia it would be rude of me take you out and expect you to pay for yo beer. tipping: i remember growing up helping people culturally. yet here if you help some olld lady to lift something she will insist on paying you…. culture. i suggest you read a book titled intercultural skills for international business and

    relations. i gaurantee you will feel the need to rewrite this article. so may be question is who defines bad habits is it you the west culture or each person’s perception of things?

  17. my point is as someone who wants to write an article. do a little bit of research before you run into the using a criteria that is commonly known as Self Referencing Criteria in multicultural studies

  18. No.nsense article. If you havent picked your nose in your life then you are not normal. Why should I tip a porter when I just got off an expensive flight? I have been to many airports and everyone carries their own sh..i.t! no porters!

    Why should I greet you when the Indian guy who owns the shop pays peanuts?

    The rudest gesture of all is thinking you are better than anyone else!

  19. #20Jobbing…Surely, does one need to do a research before they can say that nose picking is dirty, that standing decently in a queue is good manners, that playing music loudly in a heavily populated flat (for instance) is bad behaviour, that staring is offensive, does one have to take recourse to research for such mundane things? Be seriously.

    • they may seem mundane to you but you dont how such little things have affected international business. if you can find that book i recommended its just one of the books i guarantee you that after reading it you will get the point am trying to stress here. yet again if you got what am trying to say is not everything up there can be or culturally seen as bad manners e.g the aspect i picked out was queeing up. how do we que up how do u define decency. are we a monochronic society or polychronic society. my point is yo person view of things does not define societal view of things

    • my point is most of these things are culturally defined not defined by some individuals who after going coming to these monochronic societies. want to start defining things according to their taste. so not anti a larger percentage of the society you live in percieve it as such it does not pass to be called bad habit. like the aspect of queeing i personally have a problem but the larger part of our society does not in this respect it can not be seen as Bad habit

  20. #20 Jobbing, you don’t have to study “Intercultural skills for international business and relations” for you to know that: 1. leaving leftovers all over a table is a bad habit (in africa, asia, europe, america), 2. Litter all over is bad habit, 3. greeting is a value both in business and ordinary life. you cannot talk about Culture relativism with regard to cleanliness/hygiene!! Understand well he book you are reading… 

    • i understand where you are coming from but i dont think u have an idea how much these little things we take take for granted can have a toll on international business. for example in the arab world am sure you are aware that men and women have a certain distance to point. An american woman while doing business in Iran thought she was treated badly and failed to close the deal for reason that the sheik refused to shake her hand. out of ignorance you would think yes that was stupid of him doesnt he understand the value greeting in business. but ironically his not shaking hands with the woman is what is considered respectiful in their society. women do not shake hands with men out of respect for each other. but i guess you know better.

  21. @22, 23, 24 i think you misunderstood my point. my point is some of these things are culturally defined d what is considered bad behavoir or bad mannerism may not necessarily be in another culture not until you understand it will you see it as such for example. the way we eat shima with our hands in some culture its considered to be very unhygienic.dont u think its hygienic that you eat nshima with yo hands( wether washed or unwashed). i guess not yet its bizzare for some one does not knw better another example i can give is loudness Arabs talk loudly as if its a quarrel not until you unserstand the underlying aspect to this as being cultural will stop labelling it as rude. yes Research is very important. it helps see things from many different angles.

    • i doubt they are, may be by name yes but how its done i doubt there are a lot of differences on one of my replies i think i gave an example of an American lady doing businesss in the Arab world who failed to close a deal simply because he she interpreted the man’s refusal to shake her hand as hostile when in actual fact by refusing the man meant well (it was out of respect that he refused: Arab men culturally dont shake hands with women) she by thinking handshakes are universally defined. could only interpret the refusal as NOT WELCOME

  22. You were writing with one hand while other was scratching your anus… I don’t why the hell is wrong this weekend, going for soccer would best thing to do.

  23. talking about customer service. first time i walked into some restaurant fastfood restaurant here in the diaspora i thot the waiters were rude(i self referenced) coz where i come from in Zambia you walk in Mini restaurant someone will bring yo food and even pick the placed you used but to suprise i had to get my own food from the counter and take back the tray after use tell me a Zambian restaurant where you do that? non i guess.but here its a normal. so at the end of the day what am saying let us not generalise thing let us learn to see certain things for what they are without jumping to our own introverted degeneracy and calling ourselves dim wits. when in fact some of the things you do are just a totality of what u learn by nature of being a part of that society. i hope you get it

  24. #23 nubian. Picking the nose: on the bus, in the post office/bank, anywhere in public or when with friends, etc. Of course you need to clean up yourself (and this includes your nostrils) before you start off for wherever- in the privacy of your home- not at the bus station, not in your car, full of passengers, not as you sit on your desk in your shared office, etc. It’s known as grooming!

  25. It is asking for too much to expect someone who cannot afford a meal to buy and use some deodorant. That is more than a luxury for the majority of Zambians.

  26. Another bad one is not washing hands after using toilet, especially in bars. This guy just shakes his member, zips and wants a hi five on you.

  27. If you offer to buy ONE beer for someone, he/she will definitely ask for another one, without being offered. And then he/she will stop only after consuming SIX! This is not only offensive/irritating and disgusting, This also results into end of a friendship!.

  28. blowing your nose in public. By the way the cheapest deodorant is K5000 from kamwala and it will last for over a month. So no excuse

  29. Another irritating habit: men pissing against a tree or some similar object in full view of the public! It’s a pity most (if not all of our towns) do not have clean decent toilets for the public to use! Can GRZ do something about this? Urgently!!

  30. Why don’t we have rubbish bins to throw rubbish in in most places in Zambia? In any case Zambians prefer to throw rubbish beside the bin, not inside the bin. Quite irritating.

  31. Monitoring is best done when you have a couple of data to compare. A lot of blood pressure monitors have huge memory banks storing about 80 or more readings. If you’re going to buy a blood pressure monitor that’s so hard to use then might as well stick with sphygmomanometer and stethoscope.

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