African business, politics and lifestyle
Oga den dey chop money
When someone tells you “noting shaking” he means all is well — in Pidgin English, the
Nigerian lingua franca that is attracting new attention thanks to a Lagos radio presenter.
If someone bumps into your car in the rush hour and you want to avoid the hassle of a
police report or even a fist fight, you would simply say: “No wahalah” — “No problem.”
“Wet ting you dey do?” means “What you have done?”
“I de go chop.” means “I will get something to eat.”
“Make una stop dey thiefing abeg.” means “Stop stealing”
“Oga den dey chop money wello welloo!” means, “Our leaders are very corrupt!”
Pidgin English is the lingua franca for bargaining in markets, taxis and bars in most
parts of the country.
For those new to Nigeria, Pidgin will either leave you tickled or struggling to make
sense of what is being said.
Nigerian Pidgin mixes English with local languages like Ibo, Yoruba and Hausa. It’s
widely spoken across the country when compared to English, the country’s official
Until now Pidgin has not been fully developed and new words come up every day which makes
it more interesting. Although popular, it is not formally recognized as a Nigerian
In Lagos, a radio presenter known as Yaw is working to promote Pidgin through his new
morning drive show that is attracting quite a following.
The growth of Pidgin is said to be linked to urbanization in big cities. Pidgin was
formed in the 1900s when Nigeria was under British rule and English was introduced as the
common language among more than 500 others spoken here.
In the past, Pidgin was regarded as an uneducated dialect but many now see it as an
increasingly important means of communication.