Japa-ing: Navigating The New African Dream

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Japa-ing is a slang term used in Nigeria to describe the act of emigrating to another (mostly western) country in search of better opportunities. The number of Nigerians trying to move abroad has increased dramatically over time due to the worsening economic conditions. Some people even go as far as selling all their possessions to be able to afford the very expensive venture. 

Even though at this point everyone knows someone who lives abroad, secondhand information rarely prepares people for the true realities of living in a foreign country with completely different customs, values, and climate conditions to yours. If you’re thinking of japa-ing, there are a few things you need to do to make sure you’re prepared.

First, you need to develop some essential life skills. This includes things like cooking, cleaning, and sewing. You don’t want to be the only Nigerian in your new country who doesn’t know how to boil water or mend a button, and you especially don’t want to have to pay unnecessary fees. Ask for help when you need it, but keep your independence to avoid disrespect. 

There are many different ways to develop these skills. You can take classes, watch YouTube videos, or ask for help from friends and family. The most important thing is to find a method that works for you and stick with it. It might sound cliché, but consistency really is key. 

Once you have the basics down, you can start focusing on more specialized skills. For example, if you’re planning on working in a restaurant, you might want to learn how to cook different types of food. Or you can learn to braid or cut hair, do nails, print t-shirts, whatever you are interested in that you can be passionate about. You should also learn things like driving, how to use public transportation, or how to cook local dishes. The more skills you have, the better off you’ll be. Not only will you be able to take care of yourself, but you’ll also find a good job in your new country a little easier. 

In addition to life skills, you’ll also need to develop some work skills. This includes things like learning a new language, acquiring professional certifications, learning to code, or getting certified in a trade. Develop as many skills as you can because they are sure to come in handy. There are a few different ways to develop work skills like taking some classes, getting an apprenticeship, or starting your own business. Find what works for you. Some of the most important skills to develop include:

Language skills

This is an obvious one, but it’s worth repeating. If you want to be successful in a foreign country, you need to be able to communicate effectively in the local language. This means being able to understand and speak the language fluently, as well as being able to read and write it.

Cultural awareness

It is very important to understand the customs, values, and traditions of the country you’re moving to. This will help you avoid making any cultural faux pas or legal problems, and it will also help you to build relationships with people from the local culture.

Problem-solving skills

No matter where you live, you’re going to face challenges. The ability to solve problems effectively is essential for success in any country. This means being able to think critically and creatively, and being able to come up with solutions that work in the context of the local culture. Unfortunately, Nigerians face discrimination when they move abroad. This makes it difficult to find a job, to make friends, and can even be potentially dangerous. You will need to be able to navigate your way skillfully through such situations.


Finally, resilience is an important skill for anyone who is moving abroad. This means being able to bounce back from setbacks, and being able to persevere in the face of challenges. Moving abroad can be expensive, and it can be difficult to find a job that pays enough to cover your living expenses. This can be a major challenge for Nigerians who are moving abroad with limited financial resources. You should learn to hold tight and weather the storm. 

Once you have the necessary skills, you’ll be a little more confident in your abilities to start your new life in a new country. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

The sooner you start learning these new skills, the better prepared you’ll be for your move. However you need to be realistic about your expectations. It takes time and effort to develop new skills, so don’t expect to be an expert overnight. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be japa-ing and living your best life.

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