Good neighbours? Africans express high levels of tolerance for many, but not for all

Boniface Dulani, Gift Sambo, and Kim Yi Dionne


This report presents new findings on tolerance in Africa from Afrobarometer Round 6 surveys in 33 countries in 2014/2015. (The questions on tolerance were not asked in Algeria, Egypt, and Sudan because research partners deemed the question about tolerance for homosexuals too sensitive.)

The survey asks respondents whether they would like, dislike, or be indifferent to having as neighbours 1) people of a different religion, 2) people from a different ethnic group, 3) homosexuals, 4) people living with HIV/AIDS, and 5) immigrants or foreign workers.

Key findings:

  • Across 33 countries, large majorities of African citizens exhibit high tolerance for people from different ethnic groups (91%), people of different religions (87%), immigrants (81%), and people living with HIV/AIDS (68%).
  • Tolerance levels are particularly high in regions and countries that are ethnically and religiously diverse, suggesting that experience is an important factor in inculcating an attitude of tolerance among African citizens.
  • Similarly, tolerance for people living with HIV/AIDS is highest in countries with high HIV/AIDS prevalence, providing further evidence that intolerance and stigmatization can be unlearned through personal encounters.
  • A large majority of Africans, however, are intolerant of homosexual citizens. Across the 33 countries, an average of 78% of respondents say they would ‘somewhat dislike’ or ‘strongly dislike’ having a homosexual neighbour.
  • But not all of Africa is homophobic. Majorities in four countries (Cape Verde, South Africa, Mozambique, and Namibia), and more than four in 10 citizens in three other countries, would like or not mind having homosexual neighbours.
  • Christians, urban residents, and younger citizens tend to be more tolerant than, respectively, Muslims, rural residents, and older people.


Dulani, B., Sambo, G., & Dionne, K. Y. (2016). Good neighbours? Africans express high levels of tolerance for many, but not for all (Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 74). Afrobarometer.