Welcome to Nigeria month

  • 01 April 2015 | Cassidy Parker
A girl in the village of Chiromawa, Nigeria. Image courtesy of the Gates Foundation

This month, Welcome South Africa will be offering insights on Nigeria, one of the largest inbound travel markets to South Africa.

Nigeria is one of Africa’s most fascinating countries – it’s home to more people than any other country on the continent (over 175-million), with approximately 250 different ethnicities and 30 languages. Nigeria’s capital city is Abuja, not Lagos, which is the country’s largest city. The Nigerian currency is the naira.

Lagos is Nigeria's largest city. Image courtesy of Robert

Nigerian travellers to South Africa are typically men coming for business purposes, usually to Gauteng, with a small portion also travelling to the Western Cape. Nigerians come to South Africa throughout the year, though visits peak in the last quarter of the year.

Since Nigeria has its own natural wonders, wildlife viewing isn’t typically all that high on Nigerian travellers’ list of priorities. Instead, they are likely to enjoy shopping, our nightlife, and experiencing sites of political significance and places of relaxation. Bear these points in mind when recommending activities to your Nigerian guests.

When it comes to etiquette, there are a few do’s and don’ts in Nigerian culture. We’ve compiled a list of these to help you on your way.


  • Greet your guests with a firm handshake and a warm, welcoming smile. Smiling is particularly important as it shows sincerity and pleasure at the introduction
  • Take the time to ask about the health of your guests and their family, and make small talk about recent issues and events
  • Address your guests by their title and surname until they request that you call them by their fist names
  • Lower your eyes when you meet someone obviously older. This is a sign of deference and respect
  • Pay attention to body language. Nigerians communicate as much through gesture and body language as they do with language, and being aware of these social cues is important


  • Use your left hand in your interactions with others, particularly when eating with your hands, or when giving or receiving gifts
  • Shake hands with a woman, unless she extends her hand first
  • Use slang or profanities in your conversations with your guests
  • Be late in your meetings with Nigerians, but don’t be surprised if they are late or even postpone the meeting
  • Make generalisations about religion in Nigeria. It is a religiously diverse country with many complex issues at play