Heart of Arts


Toyin Falola

You must have read “Japa!” by one Toyin Falola, not the Miss but the Mr. If not, read it before you proceed further. https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/551986-japa-by-toyin-falola.html?tztc=1. Okay, you can now proceed.

Let us now talk about Jápadà by that same Toyin Falola. As the law of gravity explains, what you throw up will fall down. If you leave Africa, the Newton’s law of gravitation will bring you back. You can Jápadà permanently, semi-permanently, routinely, semi-routinely, annually, biennially, triennially, or quadrennially. Or, as many have stated in wishes and documents, as with many of my Igbo friends, their dead bodies must return to the village, even if IPOB refuses to lift the strike!

But it is your choice if you end up in a Nursing Home in East London or Arizona, your name forgotten, never to be recovered in history. It is then you will realize that what you cherish now—your bread and fried egg, your car, your house—have little meaning in the long run. You have no lineage, and your identity will eventually disintegrate. It is a prediction, not a prophecy! A future generation will not even know that Ifá in Falola means divination. A later generation, thinking that Falola is too long, will change it to Fal, just Fal, since its identity would have become redundant. Just as Falana became Falz! I am warning you now, Mr. Japa who lives on social media boasting daily about his ephemeral achievements. A foolish man uses his mouth carelessly, mistaking folly for wisdom.


With a tired face and a burdened spirit, Kelechi looks at the piles of bills and tons of messages from home and wonders how he would pay those bills and send money home. Like every other Nigerian immigrant, Kelechi heard the tales of dreams, success, and fortunes earned in a foreign land. This promise of economic opportunity made him sell his two cars, his landed property, and his business to secure a better future. At least, the grass is greener on the other side. With determination and a heart full of hope, he journeyed abroad leaving with his wife and three children with the promise of sending immense money, only to get to his destination and realize that the roads are not paved with gold and money doesn’t fall off the tree as rumored by other Nigerians who preceded him and told his exaggerated stories of their good living. The grass is only greener when you water the ground!

Kelechi worked tirelessly doing several menial jobs which barely covered his meager living in a city where the cost of living is astronomical, leaving little to none for him to send home.   He joins the social media, with 20,000 on his Facebook, sending lies every other day, and receiving the thumb up. Many of what you read on social media by those in the diaspora are either lies, half-truths or share exaggerations. The really successful ones are silent.

Agenda is not agending, and Japa has not cured Sapa. This is the staggering reality of several Nigerians who jápa to other countries in the hope of better living conditions and a brighter future. This is why migrants are ready to withstand the horrible experience of being smuggled in the desert just to their country of destination while those who cannot withstand the experience die in transit. I have written about Jápa, as I reminded you above, and with the state of things in Nigeria, I will not say ill of those who have decided to Jápa, as, to many, the Nigerian dream is no longer within, but outside. Much more than before, this emigration, like a pandemic, has swept several Nigerians abroad and the surge has been quite concerning since 2020. There is mass emigration of numerous working-class Nigerians, professionals, and students who have either sold their private ventures and properties or taken loans to facilitate their travel, it is thus not uncommon for most Nigerians to know a family or friend abroad.

The Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey showed that seven out of ten Nigerians are willing to leave the country in search of better living standards. In a similar survey, the African Polling Institute in 2022 concluded that 69 percent of Nigerians would relocate abroad with their families if they had the opportunity. Currently, the net migration rate of Nigerians is -0.273 per 1000 population. This expanding migration rate is an indication of the depressing state of an economy whose effective operation hinges on the symbiotic running of working-class citizens. Professionals from various fields are joining the japa movement. In a survey conducted by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors in 2022, it was estimated that about 50 percent of medical doctors have left the country. While the University College Hospital (UCH) recorded that more than 600 clinical workers have resigned. Similarly, Philips Consulting Limited (PCL) has estimated that 26.1 percent of professionals who intend to leave the country within the next year are from the finance and insurance sectors.

Well, when a house is on fire, the first survival instinct is to Japa out of the house, even if it is yours. That must have been what accounts for these issues. Alongside these professionals, students are also joining the japa train (who no want better thing?), with about unimaginable figures studying abroad and causing a substantial brain drain, shortage of skilled manpower, and a host of other problems. The factors behind this large migration are not farfetched as the economy is crumbling day by day affirming the title of a failed state. Reasons such as poor education, insecurity, poor health care system, bad infrastructure, unemployment, and many other factors contribute to why Nigerians are becoming immigrants in many developed countries.

However, the focus is not on Jápa, but Jápadà, a growing phenomenon of massive return home. Is the green pasture not as green as expected? Although one cannot still compare the magnitude at which Jápa is increasing to that of Jápadà, the circumstances around the latter seem to have much to be talked about. As a Tokunbo, I have also been outside and inside Nigeria visiting many countries across the continent. I can testify that Nigerians can be found in almost every nation but as much as that, they face quite unfortunate situations and do jobs less dignifying. Some beg for food. Yes, even in Germany where hundreds are actually suffering. Imagine an Ex-General Manager of a popular bank, working as a cleaner in several stores on the streets of Texas. Well, the pay is comparably high and you know, who cares about the oga sir, he gets in Nigeria? But Nigerians are probably not seeing the reality of things, the truth, I mean the truth has sent many back home with a new sense of purpose to appreciate and make do with what their country can provide.

Europe, America, and other popular places Nigerians Japa to, are undoubtedly lands of great opportunity but they are also lands of greater competition for jobs as well as products. Your business indeed tends to strive as they do not dismiss micro-economy in the same manner as seen in Nigeria. It is indisputable that Nigerians can survive almost everywhere, considering the Shege they have faced, however, such survival instincts are left at home by some people, believing that money falls like manna in Oyìnbó land. This reduces the chances of some people to survive and eventually send them home. This is the case of Shukura who went to America with her husband, she could not have conversations in English language as she is not as educated as her husband. After a month she Jápadà with her three children, and started fabric business in Gbagi market with the money her husband sends home. She could not cope with the lifestyle in her country of destination. Many have also refused to study the kind of opportunities available in the countries and examine truthfully if they can survive the change of scenery and culture, both socially and economically. Wake up! the snows are not mannas from heaven; if you are not prepared for that too, you may need to go home.

Far from home, where collectivism and communistic social orientation help others to grow, the social orientation in most of these countries is individualistic. The way people think of owing you any favor or moral obligation is not as much as could be found in Nigeria. So, you probably must anticipate being a lone wolf and must learn how to survive as such. It is a world of contracts, services, responsibilities, rights, and metro-police. Loneliness and depression have led many migrants to their early grave. Some migrants cure loneliness through consistent calls to people in their home countries.

The pattern has always been to sell off property, borrow a lot of money to go, go first, work, and come back to pick up your family one after the other or as many as you could and gradually pay back the loans. With relocation comes change that some would never be able to adapt to and agree with. Culture shock, an inevitable dilemma permeates the minds of immigrants forcing them back home. To a Nigerian, culture is important; family values, traditions, and beliefs set the foundation of every Nigerian identity. The Nigerian identity, a tag differentiating a Nigerian from a foreigner, can easily be threatened by the desire to fit into a culture perceived as strange by Nigerians. This cultural diffusion might never be fully achieved by many who are then lost in the forest of cultural diversification. Imagine having to adjust to the free expression of sexualities and new sexual communities without the social and collective criticism in Nigeria, new dressing habits, tolerance of behaviors and attributes that would have not been permitted in Nigeria, change in social views of etiquettes, dietary habits, and several others are contributing reasons why some Jápadà. It is worthy of note that some people couldn’t transition from studentship to permanent residents hence they had to return home while others migrated from being a student in Europe to being a student in America.

Beyond that, Nigerians and other African immigrants tend to face racial and xenophobic abuses in high magnitude. This could either be born out of ethnocentric mentalities as well as intolerance towards Africans because of their unending will to compete. Attacks across Europe against blacks and people of African origins, which extends to Nigerians have structurally increased in recent times. More so, the Nigerian government’s antecedents as well as the prevalence of cyber fraud and other frauds in the country have created a hostile attitude towards Nigerians across other countries.

Although the minds of Nigerians and Africans are assumed to be generally strong and can resist much of this abuse; they are however, incapacitated by systemic discrimination and physical attack on them because of their proportion to the local citizens in such host countries. When comparing the opportunity cost, the bills, and the lifestyle to live up to, Nigerians in different situations and locations may realize that there may not be much of a difference between outside the country and the country.

Jápadà, sometimes does not connote that one has willingly decided to come to Nigeria, but that one was either forced or one runs from discomfort. But another japada incidence is the increase in the rate of human trafficking across the globe. Seeing the willingness of Africans to leave their countries because of the state of things they face respectively, many have made ventures out to either turn them into slaves, prostitutes, pawns, or make them objects of organ harvesting. Different routes have emerged in the effort to japa; this has caused many slave camps or holdings, especially in Libya and other parts of the world. You are promised a good job, and comfortable relocation plans but made to make promises and commitments that you may not be able to meet up to. Unfortunately, many of these arrangements are made to beat you at the game, as such, your fate is already decided before anything else.

The cost of human organs has been skyrocketing in black markets. Research has shown that the most commonly trafficked organ is the kidney and that it costs about US$50,000 to US$120,000. I understand that jokes are often made about selling one’s kidney to resolve life issues in Nigeria, but one must be aware of those who have other plans for one’s parts of the body. The case of Senator, Eke Ekweremadu and his wife, is not the only case, it has attracted attention more because of the status of the Senator. However, there are thousands of ongoing operations and established systems that have lured Nigerians through the japa syndrome.

Unfortunately, many Nigerians would not know that the plan of their supposed agents or handlers was to turn them into items of sale or a reservoir of many of the organs they are interested in. Where one luckily discovers, Jápadà becomes an escape and instinct. Upon returning, some Africans are left in different states. Some, from the trauma of slavery, rape, and organ trafficking, some from involuntary prostitution, and others from the hell they met in paradise.

You probably would be surprised to see that despite knowing the risks and the problems associated with Japa, the rate has still been increasing. Idan no dey give up! Regardless there is a substantial unspecified number of Jápadà’s who for several reasons have returned and a smaller number who would strongly advise other Nigerians not to relocate. Though the shortcomings in the country cannot be denied, regardless, the grass is green where it is watered, and Nigerians who intend to jápa should consider the pros and cons of their destination so they don’t end up under the train of Jápadà’s.

One must understand that, not everyone who travels abroad needs to stay permanently, you could really hustle your money and plan towards starting something substantial in your country of origin. Otherwise, you would just Jápadà into debt, disappointment and disgrace. It is also necessary to state that selling all one’s belongings, entering millions of Naira worth of debt and other sacrifices may not worth it on the long run. We must know that spending those money on businesses in Nigeria with a well calculated actions that helps its growth could be better than using it all to run moving out of the country. As Germany is set on deporting 4,000 Nigerians in the weeks ahead, those who are selling their father’s house in Surulere to process the Japa papers should think twice before they close the contract.

Finally, la jú ẹ, open your eyes to those with evil intentions and ensure that you put everything in the right proportion. May we not be a victim through our own desires.

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