It’s often said that “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head, but if you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart”. Everyone feels a personal affinity to those who speak their mother tongue or to someone who makes the effort.
Working with a lot of expats back in Nigeria, I observed that some expatriates had it easier connecting with Nigerians. This invariably meant that they had a pleasant and more enjoyable experience in their host-country than others. They achieved this by making an effort to speak our language(s). Whenever we hear a foreigner use phrases such as: “No Wahala”, “Wetin dey happen?” I dey come o” How far”, it sends a message to us that this person is interested in our culture, wants to learn more about us and wants to be a part of us. And we, we get that message. And then we invite you to our birthday parties, our wedding parties, our child-naming ceremonies, and to our Sunday and sometimes mid-week church services.
We open not just our doors but our hearts, welcoming you to join our community and to feel at home. Language breaks barriers and it holds the key to the heart of a nation’s culture.
I recently launched my T-shirt line called Soyez Fleek, with a simple aim of sharing the Nigerian culture using one slang at a time. As opposed to always being on the defensive of what Nigeria is not, I wanted to offer Nigerians in diaspora an opportunity to tell our story in our own unique way.
Using popular slangs and expressions that have become a part of the Nigerian identity, the collection distinctively and boldly says NIGERIAN, and also paves the way for a different story to be shared; one that celebrates our culture, our resilience as a people every day and the beauty of the Nigerian Pidgin English language.
It is a collection that appeals to both Nigerians and friends of Nigeria who love its culture, identify with its culture, and want to re-connect and stay connected to the Nigerian energy, vibe and spirit. Beyond the products, I am excited at the possible impact that a simple slang or expression can have in reshaping the narrative about Nigeria and opening the world up to a new perception of what it means to be Nigerian.
What’s your favorite Naija slang?