See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Celebrating Netizens Who Blog in Nigerian Pidgin English

A Linguistic map of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin. [Image released to  Creative Commons]

A linguistic map of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin. Image released to Creative Commons

There are over 500 indigenous languages currently spoken in Nigeria. However, the official language is English.

The other major languages spoken in Nigeria are:

Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Ibibio, Edo, Fulfula and Kanuri. Nigeria's linguistic diversity is a microcosm of Africa as a whole, encompassing three major African languages families: Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Niger–Congo.

However, Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) has gained considerable acceptance as an unofficial second language. According to Naija Tori

Nigerian Pidgin English is a version of English and ethnic Nigerian languages spoken as a kind of lingua franca across Nigeria and is referred to simply as “Pidgin”, “Broken English” or “Broken”. It is estimated that Nigerian Pidgin English is the native language of approximately 3 to 5 million people and is a second language for at least another 75 million.

Sadly, despite the widespread use of NPE, it is yet to be given any official approval. North of Lagos laments:

Hundreds of languages are spoken in Nigeria. Apart from the most prominent–Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and English languages–521 other languages exist that have significant numbers of speakers. 521 languages in one country about double the size of Texas, amazing. So how does a Urhobo man from Delta state converse with a man who speaks Edo [a local language in Nigeria]? English is the official language of Nigeria because of British colonial rule. From the time kids start primary school they are learning and speaking English. The numbers are diminishing, but youth still hear their native languages. They learn Tiv or Igala [Nigerian local languages] in the classroom, just like they learn math and science, and of course if their parents speak something other than English at home, they will speak that. But wheat [sic] you hear students gossiping, it is not in proper British English or deep Yoruba. The language is called Pidgin, or Broken. It is Nigeria’s lingua franca, understood in all 36 states. It is how Nigerians in the most northern cities and those in the Nigeria Delta are able to communicate; yet, you will not find a classroom in the whole country that teaches it.  

Nonetheless, there are Nigerian netizens who blog in NPE. 

Wehomezone, “a pidgin blog that brings it home”, runs socio-political commentary in NPE. For instance, this blog entry is a satire on the alleged budgetary allocation for the zoo in State House:

The time Saka de sing dat im craze song, I don port o, the bobo fit no know say that im song go useful pass MTN advert. For the last one week, people de voke for Naija sake of say dem hear say dem FG budget heavy money to take care of animal for Aso Rock zoo. Naija people wetin de do una sef? Make we no de backward na. as early as 1912 wey Titanic sink, na since dat time oyinbo don show us say animal na equal to man…

Animal de always respect and protect person wey de give am food. But some human being na chop and clean mouth dem be. Dem go chop with PDP only to run go APC. Animal no de abuse dem oga for Facebook. Dem no de get two face. One profile for to praise oga and another fake one to de abuse am de leak im secret.

When Saka sang that his crazy song “I don Port O”, the fellow did not realise that his song merit will outlive [telecom provider] MTN's advert. For the past one week, people have been angry in Nigeria because of the news that the FG's [Federal Government] heavy budgetary allocation to take care of animals in Aso Rock Zoo. Nigerians what is really wrong with you? We should not go backward. As far back as 1912 when Titanic sank, that's when the white man showed us that animals are equal to men…

Animals always respect and protect the person that feeds them. Yet human beings will eat and pretend they've not eaten. They will eat with PDP, only to run to APC. Animals do not abuse their boss on Facebook. They are not two-faced hypocrites. Who have one profile to praise their boss and another fake one to abuse him and leak his secrets.

Cikko's Lair is a fiction blog that has this short story “Crash Course” in Nigerian Pidgin English:

“I no go huzzle (till infinity) but I go bubble (till infinity)…”

I pick d phone. Wizboyy na my man. I no go change my ringing tone till I buy my own jeep. Or till Showkey Baba release song again; anyone wey sha happen first.

“Hello, omo how far na?” Na my guy Kajeta been dey call.

“Guuuuy! Yawa don gas o!”

“Ahn ahn. Wetin happen?”

“Jolomi don get belle oh!”

“Jolo-wetin?”

“Jolomi! And she dey tell men say na you give am d belle.”

“Give wetin? I never see im pant na! I never kiss am sef. How I wan take pregnant am?” Make I tell una true: I been don see her pant sha. Smelling pant for dat matter. But I no wan enter yawa abeg. Which kain wahala be dis?

“I won't work (till infinity) but I will enjoy (till infinity)…”

I picked up the phone. Wizzboy is my man. I will not change my ringtone till I buy my own Jeep. Or until Showkey Baba releases another song; whicher happens first.

“Hello, how are you?” It's your guy Kajeta.

“Man! There's trouble!”

“Ahn ahn. What happened?”

“Jolomi is pregnant!”

“Jolo-what?”

“Jolomi! And she's telling people that you're the one responsible for her pregnancy.”

“Give what? I have never seen her panties! I have never kissed her. How come I'm the one responsible for her pregancy?” Let me be frank: I have seen her panties, a smelly one for that matter. But I want no trouble, please. What type of trouble is this?

Chidi Anthony Opara writes poetry in Pidgin. In “Naija Dey Dishonour Honour” he examines the irony of awarding honours in Nigeria:

Every where,
Even before before for Naija
Dem dey take honour
Tell country people
Wey do better thing dem
Well done.
Person do better sport
Dem go take honour
Tell am well done.
Person write better write write
Dem go take honour
Tell am well done.

Everywhere,

Even in days past in Nigeria
They give honours
To deserving Nigerians
In appreciation of their good work
 
One who excels in sports
Is granted an honour
As a compliment
One who writes well
Is granted an honour
As a compliment

These are also some witty sayings in Pidgin English, such as “He who fights and runs away….Na fear catch am”, which means, “He who fights and runs away… is afraid.” Take a look at some other sayings below:

Pikin wey no sabi em mama boyfriend….Dey call am brother.

A child who does not know his mother's boyfriend… calls him a brother

A rolling stone no just dey roll….Na person push am.

A rolling stone does not just roll… someone must have pushed it

He who lives in a glass house….Na im pepe rest.

He who lives in a glass house… is wealthy

A stitch in time….dey prevent further tear tear.

A stitch in time… prevents further tears

Birds of d same feather….na d same mama born dem.

Birds of the same feather… were born by the same mother

  • Pingback: Celebrating Netizens Who Blog in Nigerian Pidgi...

  • George E. Fominyen

    “Sadly, despite the widespread use of NPE, it is yet to be given any official approval.”…Same as in Cameroon. But weda official or not, dis na we all we contri tok! Make man no play wit am! Thanks for the piece Nwachukwu.

  • Eleah Ake

    There is a new link on youtube where nigerian pidgin is taught. I like the approach. Check it out and tell me what you think. the link as follows
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juIEx1HXEsE

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site