Tourists should dress modestly or conservatively in general, particularly in Zanzibar, which is a strict Muslim country. Clothing that exposes too much flesh should be avoided by Western ladies. Brightly colored wrap-around cloths known as ‘Kangas’ are inexpensive, widely available, and may be used as a covert covering.
The Masai tribe, with their brightly colored attire, are enticing photographic subjects for any visitor. They do, however, demand to be compensated, and you should always inquire before taking photographs.
When addressing elders or superiors, Swahili speakers often employ the phrase’shikamoo’ (pronounced’she ka moe’ and literally meaning ‘I hold your feet’). ‘Marahaba’ is a common answer from an elder. ‘Chei chei’ is Zanzibar’s version of’shikamoo.’ When these verbal indications of respect are used, the traveler will get along swimmingly. Furthermore, a title following the’shikamoo’ is a helpful indication that you are not simply a stupid tourist —’shikamoo bwana’ for the gents, and’shikamoo mama’ when speaking to a female senior.
Tanzanians will also make the remark “pole na kazi” if you are working while they are not. “I’m sorry you have to work,” it actually implies. In response, a simple “asante” or “thank you” will sufficient.
Many Tanzanian salespeople are persistent, and a simple head shake with “asante sana” should usually enough. A strong “hapana,” which means “no,” will suffice as a final option. Please don’t use the term “hapana” carelessly; only use it as a last option for Tanzanians. Whatever you do, don’t tell someone you’ll come back to purchase anything from them later if you don’t intend to; it’s better to be honest and say ‘no’ than to have to avoid them for days. When you pledge to visit their booth or store, they have a strange way of finding you!
Saying “sihitaji” (pronounced see-hih-tah-jee) – “I don’t need that” – is the most polite approach to reject anything.