Acclimated to Africa

"In my own experience and observing other expatriates in Africa, I notice that we generally manage to adapt well enough to the food, the climate, sleeping under mosquito nets, and possibly even regular encounters with amoebas; but it’s in the interpersonal dynamics where the battle for cross-cultural competence is won or lost, and these dynamics are commonly encountered at our places of work, worship, and recreation." (Taken from the introduction)

In this book DiGennaro discusses seven of the most common trouble spots for Westerners in Africa: organization, finances, friendships, spirituality, communication and conflict, leadership, and work. Through a playful dialogue between two characters, Wesley from the West and Juma from Africa, she articulates key differences in expectations and social norms. A deeper appreciation of how we are socially programmed in distinctly cultural ways, DiGennaro believes, will ultimately create space for improved cross-cultural relationships.


From the Foreward, by Laurenti Magesa:

Mrs DiGennaro has written an extremely lucid and witty book about the pillars that sustain the African cultural heritage, pillars that are surely not about to disappear. Here in one relatively small volume we have knowledge without which Africans and Westerners cannot expect to coexist, if not as friends, at least as fellow human beings in a world that more and more compels people unavoidably to rub shoulders with one another. The book cannot be recommended highly enough.

Debbi DiGennaro’s book is an extraordinary book of wisdom for those who want to serve Africa. I commend it as a proven roadmap to a continent of adventure and beauty.
— Floyd McClung, Founder of All Nations
This book is a must-read for anyone considering living outside their own culture. Please could you get it published before May when our next team arrives?
— Jon Parsons, founder of Turning Point Ministry
DiGennaro has an easy, conversational style for explaining key insights into life in Africa for the Westerner. Her years of living in Africa have given her perspective in such a way that she clearly explains many cultural differences in an honoring way. I highly recommend this book to people who seek to find appropriate ways to relate to their African colleagues and friend.
— Sarah Lanier, Foreign to Familiar


Having visited Africa at least once a year for the last ten years, I had many “aha” moments as I read this book: “that’s why he acted that way”/”that’s why she said what she did.” Among so many wise tips, here’s one I felt was a key insight: “Find an African person who is a genuine peer or as close to a peer as possible (socially, economically, academically), then feed that relationship. Learn from that person; take her perspective seriously; and invest in the connection.”
— Vic Wiens

Debbi DiGennaro provides a practical guide to help Westerners navigate the vast cultural differences between Africa and the Western world.
— Emily Jones