Know your Nigerian visitor

English is the official language, but more than 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria.

'Hello', and a handshake (you should wait for a woman to offer her hand first).

Rushed greetings.

Handling food with the left hand.

Behave with the utmost politeness.

Enquire after the other person’s health, studies, work, family and so on when you greet them.

'Hello' is universally accepted as a form of greeting. Never begin your conversation with a Nigerian guest without greeting them first.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on the greeting. You are expected to enquire after the other person’s health, studies, work, family and so on.

Women greeting women: handshakes.

Men greeting men: handshake with the right hand. Hold that hand with the left hand during introductions. Juniors should bow slightly.

Men greeting women: a man should wait for a woman to offer her hand first. In the north, which is more Muslim, physical contact between sexes is discouraged.

A handshake and a smile are most common. Men may place their hand on the other person’s shoulder while shaking hands.

Never rush a greeting; take time to enquire after the person’s family and their health.

Nigerians wait for a woman to extend her hand before the handshake. Observant Muslim men do not usually shake hands with women, so don’t be offended if a Nigerian guest won’t shake your hand.

Wait until invited before using a person’s first name. Rather call them Miss, Mrs, Mr, Dr, etc.

When greeting someone who is your elder, bow your head to show deference and respect.

Never serve your Nigerian guest food with your left hand, as often it is considered unclean.

Since Nigeria is largely cash-based, Nigerians often don’t pay with a credit card. They may pay you entirely in cash.

Nigerians have the same tipping rules as South Africans.

Keep relations formal and polite until your guest has got to know you well. Take your cue from any other Nigerians present regarding a lapse into a more informal approach.