Tipping Theories in Africa

By Josephine Wawira

The issue of tipping has for a long time caused debate in the African soil. While the practice is largely considered as a Western culture, Africans have slowly but surely adopted the norm.

Most wonder what is debatable about giving tips. Why people are obliged to tip service givers all the time, how much is the standard tip, why people often feel pressured to tip more than they had budgeted for; are questions that we all seek to know as far as tipping in Africa is concerned. Here are some of the concepts associated with tipping in the African continent.

tipping

Underpayment is a major reason why service givers expect tips

Most hotels, restaurants and tour companies are known for under-paying their service givers such as housekeepers and drivers; such that they can barely make ends meet. Therefore, tips from guests go a long way in supplementing their daily expenses. Originally, tipping was supposed to show appreciation, but some employers have since taken advantage to underpay workers, expecting that the tips will fill that gap.

Tipping is an incentive

Despite the earlier mentioned adverse perception, most of us will agree that tipping is actually a good thing; as long as it is used for the right purpose. Speaking of purpose, giving tips is a way of appreciating the service you have received. In that way, the service provider will be motivated to offer even better services next time, not only to the giver but to others as well.  

The amount tipped should be discretion

As the saying goes, “Blessed is the hand that giveth”. It is human nature, in most cases, to feel happy when we freely give others; tipping is no exception. No one should be forced to give tips under any circumstance. Rather, if given satisfactory services, people should feel free to appreciate their service suppliers with an open heart. Likewise, service givers should not always expect to receive tips in exchange of good service. This can be a huge burden particularly for travellers as tipping can be such a dilemma in balancing their budget. Appreciate when you receive a tip and be satisfied for delivering a service even if you don’t.

How much to tip

There is no such a thing as a constant amount that one is supposed to tip. Since tips should be a sign of gratitude, only give what you can afford. Moreover, you alone can evaluate the value of the service you have received. If you are extremely pleased, why not appreciate more as long as you have it.  However, you don’t have to tip if not satisfied with the service. The choice on how much to tip is all yours.

Tipping is sometimes stereotyped

Do you sometimes wonder why two people provide similar services and only one gets tipped? Well in most cases only the tipper can tell us why he/she chose to tip one and not the other. But the truth of the matter is, there is a high possibility that the tipper liked one and disliked the other; perhaps due to physical appearance or confidence and the list goes on. On the other hand, service providers also stereotype those who tip them. For example, if one gives a small tip, he/she could be associated with a particular race, class or status. This can also apply to one who gives a large tip.

After all is said and done, we agree that tipping is clearly a sensitive matter of the heart. We can choose to tip or not. We decide how much to tip and when to. In some cases, we also decide who to tip and who not to. So, what’s your personal opinion about tipping?

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