The Etiquette of Staying with People

Africans are generally hospitable people. We are also long-suffering. We do a lot of visiting and staying with people. We keep large houses and have extended family live with us. However, many family and friendship relationships have been strained or even destroyed because of unwelcome or overstaying guests.

This is in part due to the fact that some people consider staying with family members or friends as a right even when the status of their host have changed.

In some cases, spouses have been labelled as hostile, though it is the guest’s behaviour that has pushed them to the limit. A culture that embraces hospitality and cherishes family and friends is thus subject to abuse on a monumental scale with negative consequences.

The guidance below is to prevent this trend and to ensure that you never overstay your welcome or become a home wrecker.

Responsibilities of the host
• Make your guest’s stay as pleasant as possible by offering genuine hospitality.

Guest’s Responsibilities
• The first thing to note is the difference between staying and living. Staying is usually for a short period i.e. days or a few weeks. If you have to live with someone, which is usually for a longer period, then there is a greater weight of responsibility on you to behave.
• Never move in to stay with anyone without seeking their prior approval.
• Inform your host of your departure date and stick to it even if you have been invited to stay.
• Bring a gift for your host.
• Do not attempt to impose your idea or way of life on your host. Watch out for the way things are done and conform to the rule of the house, it is not your home.
• Clean up after using the bath, shower or kitchen.
• Know your boundaries and strictly adhere to them. For example do not go into the bedrooms or kitchen if you are not invited.
• Under no circumstances should you pooh-pooh your host or make any adverse comments regarding the behaviour of their family members.
• Do not use your host’s telephone except with prior consent and only for short local calls. Avoid asking your host to use their phone for international or long distance calls.
• Never ask for a favour that will put your host in a difficult position.
• If you can; do contribute to the upkeep of the house during your stay.
• Do not overstay your welcome.
• Express your appreciation to your host at the end of your stay.

We all benefit when we do things right

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