Japa: A Nigerian Buzzword for Emigration
In the 2022 edition of the Youths in Business Forum, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, asked to know what “Japa” meant. This is how Dingba Peter, convener of the forum, explained it:
If you have an inkling Dinga’s definition is incorrect, you’re right. In his words, he refused “to give her the code.”
Japa is a Nigerian buzzword for emigration. And it’s probably—and fittingly—Nigeria’s most-traveled slang (pun intended).
A Closer Look
Growing insecurity, financial instability, and unemployment are the main drivers of the Japa movement in Nigeria, making young Nigerians emigrate abroad in droves to seek more favorable living and economic conditions.
- To Japa is to relocate to a western nation permanently.
- To be Japing is to be in the process of leaving.
- To have Japad (past tense) is to have left the country
- And Japspirationists are people who aspire to relocate abroad permanently
According to the Urban Dictionary, Japa is coined from two Yoruba Language words: “Ja” & “Pa.”
“Ja” means to run swiftly, flee, or break free from something. And “Pa” is used to express the severity of the action.
Therefore, Japa means to flee or run like crazy, usually because one is trying to escape a dangerous situation.
Naira Marley’s 2018 song, “Japa,” takes part of the credit for the recent popularity of the word.
Below are real-life examples of how Nigerians use the word Japa
Now, go spruce up your conversations with some Nigerian lexicon.