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      Africans are still unpacking the new year, one day at a time. For some people, the strides are gradual while others are in full gear already.


      Businesses are up and running, full mast, essentially because the usual pre-Christmas urban-rural exodus is now in reverse gear; the villages have poured back into the cities all the people they welcomed just before the holidays.


      Daily interactions across African cities have seemingly returned to normalcy. But is there a regular pattern when Africans communicate with one another, especially in urban spaces?


      Other than official and ancestral languages too numerous to list, Africa has regional or sectarian expressions that dot its wide communication spectrum.


      Africans from different parts of the continent, aided by social media, periodically produce peculiar slangy terms.


      Let us close in on one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world – Nigeria.


      With more than 500 distinct languages, a unique version of the English Language -Pidgin, and the official English Language which is spoken less frequently in rural areas, spice and variety are generously displayed when Nigerians interact every day. Factor in the immense creativity especially from Nigerian youth and you have a repertoire of vernacular expressions.


      So, as Nigerians proceed with their colorful communication styles in 2023, let us, in hindsight, consider a collection of coinages created from seasons, fads, and trends of 2022, most of them, though inherited from previous years, have been made more popular by social media, music, and African contemporary pop culture.



      DEY PLAY


      This construction found its way to the lips of most Nigerians after it was reportedly made popular by a TikTok user from Edo state, Nigeria.


      The social media user, while showing off his new house and car in a video, repeatedly said “Just de play”, paradoxically implying that hard work pays off more than playing.


      The slang quickly caught on, especially among young folks who use it to sarcastically nudge their peers to stay focused.





      This is exactly not new on Nigerian streets, but in 2022, enhanced by social media and a song by budding Nigerian Musician, Austin Emmanuel, popular as Austin De Bull, ‘shey you dey whine me ni?’ became a major trend.


      A lot of meanings can be ascribed to this coinage; however, it primarily queries the listener’s realness or genuineness.


      On the streets of Nigeria, people ask this colloquial question to make sure they are not being messed with, or to be sure the other party is serious with them.





      Trenches to a traditional English speaker could mean a dug ditch, but to an average Nigerian on the streets, the word represents a slum neighborhood, Ghetto, or a dirty situation.


      Again, Nigerian pop music made the word so popular that it became part of day-to-day conversations. In 2022, the word found prominence in the west African country. Will its longevity span 2023? We will see.



      GOD ABEG


      Even though the coinage “God Abeg” stems from an average Nigerian’s tendency to seek help from The Supreme Being during daunting days, Nigerian pop singer Habeeb Okikiola, popular as ‘Portable’, made the expression famous on social media after he released a snippet of a song he was working on at the time that had the words ‘God Abeg’ as part of its lyrics.


      ‘Ábeg’ is the Nigerian version of the word ‘please’, so, ‘God Abeg’ represents a passionate plea to The Almighty especially because Nigerians across religious sects are united in the belief that God exists, and He gives help to those who ask of Him.





      This one emanates from the Yoruba Language, and it means ‘’it is gone”.


      The slang became famous after Nigerian professional dancer and musician Iwe Pascal known famously as Poco Lee released a song with the same title.


      Young people, Yoruba or not, have since adopted the term in everyday chats.





      This is the Yoruba word for ‘child’ – boy or girl.


      It can also refer to a beautiful young girl, and its adoption as a key slang in Nigerian streets predates 2022.


      In Edo state, the word is also not scarce. However, it has gradually become a major term, especially during informal conversations across Nigeria.


      It is informally an exclamation, a quick filler during banters, and a conversation beginner with a peer or Friend, so, next time you visit Nigeria, and you find yourself in a conversation with someone within your peer range, feel free to ease things up with a little bit of ómo’ in the mix.





      This is a typical sectarian term with its roots reportedly traced to the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Port Harcourt precisely.


      As slang on the street, it means ‘plenty’ or ‘excessively’, and for some reason, it is used together with the word ‘collect.’


      So it is not unusual to hear ‘collect woto woto’ implying that what is to be given out might come in excess. This term is believed by some to have an aggressive undertone.



      A few of these coinages are spillovers from years before 2022.  But do you think these terms will outlive 2023?


      Do you know of any lingo from 2022 that is still lingering and gradually becoming part of the Nigerian or African culture? We want to hear it.

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