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Local People and Customs

Dance TroupeSierra Leone reflects the diverse nature of the region with people from different tribal backgrounds. These differences can be seen in the traditional music and performances of local cultural groups. Come listen to the drums of the Temne or watch the dances of the Mende. See the fire-eaters or watch the “Mask Devils” dance.

The people of Sierra Leone welcome visitors and are proud to show off their country. There are few social restrictions though sensitivity is suggested in the more rural areas. English is widely spoken in Freetown though Krio and tribal languages are more prevalent in the countryside. Translators are available.

Greetings are important in Sierra Leone. Business meetings usually begin with a formal exchange of cards and introductory speeches. Social gatherings are less formal.


Always ask permission before taking pictures of nationals. In most cases they will be happy to comply especially if you can send them a copy of the picture! The government discourages begging of any kind.


Sierra Leone has a culture of religious tolerance. Many nationals mix their religious practices with tradition. Visitors wishing to attend Christian and Muslim services can do so at various churches and mosques.

Krio Language

Sierra Leoneons will be thrilled to hear a visitor use some basic Krio words. Krio is a form of pigeon English encompassing some of different tribal words. It’s widely spoken through Freetown with a lesser degree in rural areas. Watch the smile on a nationals face when you say ‘ow di bodi?’ Don’t worry about making mistakes!

Kusheh - hello

Ow di bodi? - How are you? How is your health?”

De bodi fine - I am fine.

Ar nor well - I am not well.

Tenki - Thank you

Do ya - Please!

We go see ya - Good-bye

How to Dress

Casual, lightweight and informal clothing is appropriate for day and evening. Cotton is recommended. For business meetings and with Government Officials, men should wear a lightweight or tropical suit and tie, women a lightweight suit or equivalent. National, Lounge suit or uniform is required for official and diplomatic functions.

For the rainy season, wet wear apparel is recommended. A light sweater or jacket might be useful in the evenings during the Harmattan period from November to February. Don’t forget your beachwear, comfortable walking shoes and sports equipment.

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