How to deter yelling children… possibly!

John Grinling has sent the following advise about how to avoid the unwanted attention of yelling children. Personally I’m not convinced that the way you dress or behave will do much to encourage or deter this behaviour, but for what it’s worth…


Yelling children is a sporadic but undeniable irritant to visitors to Ethiopia. But in order to minimise the hassle, I would stress the need for visitors to apply two basic rules:

1. The blend-in factor: Try to dress and behave like an average
Ethiopian: no shorts for men or women, never ever ever. Always long
trousers or a decent dress. No ridiculous hat and sun glasses, never.
A sober cap or hat, and ordinary sun shades. You are on holidays, but
it doesn’t need to show. No undue bright colors. Everything dull.
Avoid backpacks as much as possible: they identify you immediately as
farangi and tourist. Blend in. If the men wear their shirts outside
their trousers, wear yours the same way…

2. The harm reducing attitude: Don’t react or answer to uncalled
solicitations. Ignore them gently, but as a matter of course, not
showing any irritation or any feeling at all. Do not react. The French
say “Qui répond apond” “Who answers ads on”. Simply, and modestly,
keep on with what you are doing. Heckling will sooner dye off. And if
circumstances permit, if the kids are few and gentle, you can also be
friendly and natural, and engage in some kind of communication. But no
giving birr, no pen, no sweets and especially no holding hands. Unless
some most uncommon circumstances call for it.


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