Nigerians explain the origin of Jand as slang for London, UK

Jand: Nigerians call London Jand

We just got some education on Quora, unarguably the world’s largest platform for sharing knowledge.

For those who may not know, Quora is a question and answer online platform, with the stated mission to “to share and grow the world’s knowledge.”

And, of course, the platforms attract all sorts of questions… And answers, from contributors who are eager to share their knowledge with others.

And so one inquisitor was perplexed that many Nigerians refer to London (or the whole of the UK for that matter) as ‘Jand’. So, they decided to take their problem to Quora and to ask Nigerians on Quora why that is.

To be completely honest, yours sincerely had never considered the origin of the word, even though they are guilty of using it several times. So, when the question, “Why do Nigerians call London ‘Jand’?” surfaced on our Quora feed, our curiosity was piqued and we knew we must read the answers.

One of the answers that stood out was the one given by Richard Ali whose profile says he’s a “Nigerian who believes in an African identity and the continent’s history.”

According to Ali, ‘Jand’ arose out of Nigerian’s love of “fooling with words and subverting language”, especially where a word is deemed to have too many syllables.

Note that this propensity is very handy in Pidgin language, which does not really have much grammar rule and structure, so it’s easy to get away with murdering a language, in a manner of speaking.

Ali opines that the “subculture (Pidgin-speaking Nigerians) decided there were too many syllables in both the words ‘England’ and the ‘United Kingdom’. What to do? Take away the first syllable of England and while at it, replace the first two letters with a J to give it some personality. Hence ’Jand’. But they were not done yet. No one was going to call out the ‘United Kingdom’ for you so Wales, Scotland and the two Irelands all got squashed into ‘Jand’. No sub-nationalism for you guys. Sorry!

He continues: “Now, kind sir, from the foregoing, do you wish to ask about Nigerians saying: ‘The United Kingdom of whatnot and whatnot and whatnot’? Nobody gets that time for Naija Pidgin English! Na ‘Jand’ be all that na.”

However, while many people applauded Ali’ explanation, not everyone agrees with his explanation on the origin of the word, ‘Jand’.

According to Quora user Oluwaseun Akinfolarin, the word was coined from a Yoruba’s word ‘Ja’ meaning to escape.

In his comment to Ali’s answer, Oluwaseun says: “The origin of ‘Jand’ is not accurate. Many young Nigerians sought to escape Nigeria to live in the UK, in the local Yoruba language to do that was to “Ja” meaning escape. Over time it became verbalised for referring to people who had escaped “O ti Ja” meaning he has escape, then in particular when referring to the place the person went it was modified to ‘O ti ‘Jand’’ somehow in the evolution of this street parlance, ‘Jand’ evolved into a noun for the United Kingdom.

Quora user Ifeoma Amadi disagrees with Oluwaseun Akinfolarin, saying: “Actually, London used to be referred as ‘‘Jandon’ in the 70s and 80s Nigerian slang. ‘Jandon’ got shortened to ‘Jand’.

However, Ifeoma’s comment does not shed light on the origin of ‘‘Jandon’ as slang for London or the UK.

It was Quora user Reggie Adaka who first shed light on the origin of Jandon as slang for London. According to him, ‘Jand’, is an abbreviation of the ’70 and 80s slang, ‘Jandon’ used for London, UK. ‘Jandon’ itself is an abbreviation of the Yoruba slang phrase – ‘Ja lo si London’ – meaning ‘run off to London.’

And even those who disagree with the perspective appear to give credence to it. Like Quora user Comfort Ojo, who notes: “’Ja’ only became a slang not long ago, ‘Ja’ didn’t always mean emigration or leaving a place. In fact, ‘Ja’ as it means today was coined from ‘Jand’, which was coined from ‘Jandon’, coined from London, as it was most common for Nigerians leaving to the United Kingdom in the 70s and 80s went to London thus the inference.”

So, it seems that the overwhelming responders (even those who seem to disagree) offer a perspective that suggests that the word ‘Jand’ as a slang for the UK outcropped from the Yoruba word ‘Ja’ meaning to escape.

While we couldn’t confirm the origin of the word, it has actually been fun and educating reading the thread. And what’s more, we actually love the sound of Jand compared to the formal London or UK. So, when next you ‘jand’, be sure to send us some love from ‘Jand’.

Do you agree with the perspectives described in the article or perhaps you have another perspective? Please share your comments with us.


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Nigerians explain the origin of Jand as slang for London, UK