L.I.L . . . In Jokes and Expressions

Oga Madam, I dey hail o!

If you are new to Lagos or have been here for sometime, you will no doubt come across some of these expressions and jokes. First thing to note is that Nigerians, especially, Lagosians are full of jokes and despite whatever situation we find ourselves in, we find ways to make jokes. The classic case of lemons and lemonades. It is not unusual to find yourself in the midst of Lagosians and feel isolated because you do not understand the slangs and the jokes which you may then assume to be a sign of alienation and their way of telling you, you don’t belong. WRONG! It is like being in the midst of Englishmen and hearing them converse in their wry English humour. Haha.

So, lets go slanging and interpreting. Please note that most of these slangs are gotten from real life occurrences.

  • “My Oga at the Top” . This became a slang when an NSCDC (National Corporation and Civil Defence Corps) Commandant appeared for an interview on Channels television and couldn’t give the official website so in a desperate effort to deflect attention from himself he said, “My Oga at the Top, is the only one who can tell you which website we would be using.” https://youtu.be/kaurbDSCgho. This interview went viral and lots of memes, mugs, punchlines, etcetera were borne out of that statement. Also, the less popular joke “Daz all’ came from this interview as well. 

The slang means in simple terms “Top Boss or most Senior Official”. 

  • “Diaris God o!” This became a slang when the former First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Jonathan, who doesn’t have a good command of the English Language held a press conference with the parents of the missing Chibok girls, the principal and teachers of the school. In an outburst of emotion to show her sympathy for those affected by Boko Haram, she burst into tears and ended her section with cries of “Diaris God o, Diaris God o, Diaris God ooo…” https://youtu.be/l07tQLF0Y7k

The slang is self explanatory. It simply means, “Judgment day is coming” or “God is watching!”

  • “Na only you Waka Come?” This also came from the same press conference also uttered by the former First Lady, widely referred to as Dame Patience. Please see same link above if you haven’t. This came about during her questioning of the school principal who showed up alone for the press conference. 

This slang means one came or arrived alone without support. 

  • “419 or Wayo” This came from the Nigerian criminal code 419 which refers to fraud.  When used in speech by Nigerians, it doesn’t always refer to a criminal but simply to a crook, cheat or someone trying to trick the other. This is most often used amongst friends without malice. 
  • “Yahoo Yahoo” This refers to cyber crooks. This is to Nigerians much more serious than 419. A Yahoo Yahoo person is to be held at arms length as they would go to any length to get wealth. The term was coined from the scam emails that were mostly sent out with Yahoo addresses. 
  • “Wawu!” This is an elaboration on the exclamation “WOW!” Which has become too mainstream for trendy social media savvy Lagosians. This is often used as “What a Wawu!!!” It is used to express surprise and disbelief. There’s also the variation “what a wow!”
  • “Wehdone Sir!” This is an expression coined by the artiste Falz. Falz is a trained Lawyer and son to Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Falz burst into social media fame and media recognition by garnering attention through his deliberate use of bad English and heavy Yoruba accent when he debuted his “Ello Bae” series. He made even more popular, the word, “Bae” which means “babe or sweetheart”. 

This slang is often used in response to a person who tells outrageous lies. The slang comes complete with a gesture which is a mock salute from the forehead.  https://g.co/kgs/Yz6mkr

  • “Soft Work”  Another credit to Falz. It simply means an enjoyable profession or a fun job that comes with so many perks, it’s almost laughable to term what you do as ‘work’. https://youtu.be/kzzsBzgjA6A
  • “Pepper Them” Another one to credit an artiste with. Olamide, a Nigerian artiste brought this old slang to life in his latest release “Pepper Dem Gang”. This phrase simply refers to an enviable person.  https://youtu.be/K42oOoTgwGw
  • “Slay” Much as I’m sure Nigerians would like to lay claim to this, it doesn’t belong to us. However, it has become embedded in our everyday social media pic speak. It means to be on top of or to be fashionable.
  • “Gbagbe Osi.” This simply means ‘leave foolishness’. 
  • “Kolo” This means ‘crazy’. 
  • “Eko” this is slang for ‘Lagos’. 
  • “Wetin” this is slang for ‘what’.
  • “Wahala” this is slang for ‘Trouble’. 
  • “O.Y.O. ” In other words; you are ‘On Your Own’
  • “See Your Life” This is slang for take a look at yourself.

  • “Eh Heh” This is one of Lagosians most versatile slangs. It could mean ‘And So?’ Or ‘Yes?’ (Confrontational) or ‘Really?’ (Surprise!) Just follow the context. 
  • Jollof” Jollof rice is one of Nigeria’s proud dishes and there’s a competition between Ghanaians and Nigerians on who makes the best jollof rice. The party “Jollof” usually has a woodsy thang to it and is the most sought after dish in a party. Hence the slang which refers s meant to connote ‘Enjoyment’.
  • “Edible Catering” Tiwa Savage, a popular Nigerian artiste was embroiled in a scandal when her much hyped marriage to TeeBillz crashed. She conducted an interview with PulseTv to answer the cheating allegations levied on her by her then estranged on Instagram. In her interview she told of how her husband was cheating on her with a woman whose number he saved on his phone as “Edible Catering”. In true Nigerian spirit, this has now come to mean ‘the side chic’ or ‘other woman’. 

  • “Gerrara Here!” This one, is from the stables of Nollywood. It is an attempt at saying ‘get out of here!’in a Nigerian American wanna be accent. 
  • “Abi?” Old as time. This means ‘Right?’ Or ‘Yeah/Yes?’ Same as “Shebi?”
  • “Sha” Also old as time. It is usually used at the end of a sentence like a punctuation. 
  • “Mumu” This means fool. 
  • “NEPA” National Electric Power Authority. This used to be the electricity distribution company and due to frequent power outages, it became norm to ask if there’s any ‘NEPA or Light’.  

Hahaha the slangs are endless. Nigerian speak, especially Lagos speak is quite colourful. And we tend to talk with a lot of expressions and gesticulations. Feel free to mention a few more slangs with meanings in the comment section, please. Until the next post, stay happy and sharp Living In Lagos. 

One thought on “L.I.L . . . In Jokes and Expressions

  1. Ah… E plenty oh!!

    “How I go do ” what choice have I got?
    “That one sef dey/follow/join” That is acceptable
    “You fit? ” Can you?
    “I don dey” I am satisfied
    “Don Dada” Chairman/ Boss
    “Omo baba olowo “- made popular by artiste Davido . (Rich kid)
    “bobo” as in “you want to bobo “trick” me ”
    Jollof as in “you just dey Jollof (enjoy, laze around)

    Oh my… I’d never stop if I continued


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