By Igwe Peace
‘Opoor’, ‘Cut soap for me’, ‘shege’, ‘japa’, ‘sapa’, ‘vawulence’, ‘we are outside’, or ‘we dey outside’, amongst many others, are Nigerian Pidgin slangs and expressions which have gained semantic ground on Internet discourse in recent times.
Each of them, one way or the other, has been used to perform several functions. Some are used to create humour, some to threaten faces, some to portray a self-image in a pitiable light, some to display wealth and so on.
‘Cut soap for me’, is a slang used by Internet fraudsters, what Nigerians call ‘yahoo yahoo’ boys, which is a diabolic means of getting rich quickly. It has also been adopted jokingly by people who desire what another has , like knowledge, beauty, physique.
‘Shege’ is a Hausa derogatory word used to describe a child born out of wedlock, simply a bastard (Hausa Dictionary) but it has been used lately to mean nonsense, suffering and tribulation. Funnily too, it has been defined as the unit for measuring sapa at a point in time (Urban Dictionary). ‘Sapa’ here, is Nigerian slang for being extremely poor or broke. It is used mostly by university undergraduates and young netizens.
Again, there is the slang ‘japa’ derived from Yoruba language, which simply means flight, an act of someone running away from a particular situation or relationship, but mostly, it is used by those with the intention of migrating from Nigeria to other countries or by those who have migrated.
‘Vawulence’ which has blacklisted the correct version ‘violence’ is another Nigerian slang used to lampoon a person, their content or their posts on social media, it is characterised by humorously derogatory speech and words, it is also used to describe verbal attacks.
The most recent is the title of a song by Olamide the boss of YBNL ‘we outside’ or ‘we dey outside’, used widely on social by both young and old people, to announce that they are out with friends having fun, shopping or partying.
All these slangs and more have made Internet and street conversations in Nigeria quite coded, thrilling, humorous and fun. However, the last slang ‘we outside’ or ‘we dey outside’ could be menacing, if not applied with wisdom. This slang was the inspiration for the paper.
Though the use of the Nigerian slang ‘we dey outside’ means to be out of the house, it could connotatively mean exposure to threat. Social media have become the recent tracking means for perpetrators, as many of us bare all our lives on it. We get married, we post, we give birth, we post, we buy a new car, we post, we build a house, we post, we graduate, we post, we go to the mall, we post, we even buy a wrist watch, eat fried rice and chicken, get admitted to the hospital and still post. What more of our lives is left to preserve? Nothing!
To easily know how one is faring, all one needs to do is slide into one’s Facebook account, Instagram or WhatsApp status and the information is there. While social media are not all bad, as some people have been favoured, connected and helped through them, let’s be mindful of the content we post, as it could endanger our lives .
I came across a video on social media of a young man displaying some wands of Naira notes, saying, ‘we are outside’, ‘we are outside’….., he was, from all indications, preparing for his wedding. Unfortunately, in another video, his lifeless body is being laid into a casket. He was dead. According to the news, he was killed by unknown gunmen. That was the end, he only declared he was outside and was eternally sent inside (grave). What a pity!
Cases like this could be avoided if we learn to cut down on our display of affluence, achievements and our private lives on social media. Likewise, bridle our tongue on plans and vision before they materialize. We should not let unrealistic posts by others pressurize us to expose what should be private. Don’t forget, our success sometimes is other’s struggles. So, why we feel the need to testify to our net families and friends, about our achievements and plans, let’s be mindful of the fact that not everyone will be happy for us. Social media are not a completely safe place. We should say and post what is fit for public consumption and keep the rest to ourselves.
Also, with the case of insecurity in the nation, it is advisable to be conservative with information about travel plans. ‘We meuvee’ (travelling or on motion), many of us are quick to announce on social media, then they (kidnappers) ‘meuvee ‘with us and the next news is ransom for life. If we must announce our journey, it should be when we have arrived at our destination. Avoid a flamboyant lifestyle, don’t create an impression that could be misleading, avoid unnecessary display of cash and, most importantly, let’s commit our going outside into the hands of God.
Igwe, Peace is of the Department of English,
Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos