Exploring a foreign country can be intimidating, especially if you don't know the local language. In Africa, there are thousands of indigenous languages and dialects, and each nation has an official language that serves as a lingua franca. To ensure you're respecting local language and dialects while traveling in Africa, it's essential to learn the basics of the official language, as well as some of the more common dialects. Additionally, you should get a chef card in the local language before your trip, and consider using language-learning apps like Babbel or Rosetta Stone.
When visiting Africa, it's important to remember that there are thousands of indigenous languages spoken in the continent. Every African country you visit will likely be home to more than a dozen (if not several hundred) languages, even the smallest countries. However, due to the immense linguistic diversity, each African nation has an official language (or 11 in the case of South Africa) that acts as a lingua franca for (at least) one reasonably sized region. Since most African countries were once colonies, speaking English, Portuguese or French will also help you communicate.
Many Africans speak Creole or Pidgin versions of these European languages, so they may not be as easy to understand the first time you hear them. It's also humbling to note that most of the people you'll meet on a safari in Africa will be able to speak at least two or three languages fluently. To make sure you're respecting local language and dialects while traveling in Africa, it's important to learn the basics of the official language, as well as some of the more common dialects. This will help you communicate with locals and demonstrate that you're making an effort to understand their culture.
When you travel and can converse with the friendly seller in a store, the inspirational musician on the street, or the traveling companion you meet in your hostel bedroom, things get much more fun and interesting. Traveling with respect for local language and dialects is an essential part of any journey to Africa, and it will make your experience much more enjoyable.