10 ways to say ‘hello’ to a Nigerian

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how to say hello in Nigerian
It is amazing how easily the word “Hello” is disregarded, yet it is one of the most frequently used and meaningful word in our lives. The moment we pick up the phone, to the moment we meet someone for the first time and even when starting a conversation…it is the first words we use. It doesn’t matter how we say it or in what form or language we say it with, it generally helps us build courage and confidence in new environments.

You might know two or three ways to say “Hello” to someone, but in Nigeria there are actually dozens of different expressions. With a lot of local dialects and slangs, Jumia Travel, Africa’s largest hotel booking portal presents 10 ways to say Hello, Nigerian style:

  • how to say hello in NigeriaKedu
    This is the Ibo translation of “Hello”. It literally translate as “how are you”, and is by far the most commonly used greeting by the Ibo ethnicities. It is an informal greeting that can be used any time of day in any kind of situation.
  • Bawo ni!
    If you have visited any Yoruba speaking area, you may have heard this phrase used repeatedly. It is the standard greeting which is used in the morning until about noon. It can be used in both formal and informal situations.
  • Kóyo
    This is used in Benin and neighboring communities. It is a way  of saying “hello” or “how are you”.  It’s an informal greeting that can be used any time of day in any kind of situation. When you are not sure how to greet somebody, it is always appropriate to say “Kóyo ”.

hello in Nigerian

  • Mesiere
    Mesiere is the Efik/Ibibio way of greeting. Many argue that the phrases “ Idem mfo? “ or “ Abadie” are better interpretations, but Mesiere is a more common greeting. It is an everyday, complimentary greeting used between all people.
  • Sannu!
    This is the formal way to greet somebody and say: “hello”  in the Northern region dominated by locals from the Hausa tribe. It is a very common and respectful form of greeting wherever Hausa is spoken.
  • Abole
    A traditional Nigerian greeting used by the Idoma in Benue State area, Abole translates roughly as “How are you?” or simply “Hello”.

handshake - hello to a Nigerian

  • Mavo
    Literally translated as “how are you?”, Mavo is the way the Urhobo’s say “hello. It can be used in formal situations, or in cases where you are more relaxed with acquaintances.
  • How far?
    Usually pronounced “har fa”. “How far?” is the most common way to say “hello” in Nigerian pidgin. It is obviously used in informal setting and more amongst family, friend and acquaintances. Even though it looks like a question, it doesn’t need to be answered, especially if the person carries on with the conversation anyways.
  • Hey
    Although “hey” is commonly considered rude when used in reference with people who you do not  know well. It is also applied among friends, especially teenagers and millennials. It sounds casual and cool, but can sometimes be confusing.
  • I hail
    This is commonly used in Warri pidgin. It is a very popular way of saying “hello” in the region. Other forms of hello in Warri pidgin include: “I greet your ministry”, “what’s the level?”, “how your side?”

 

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25 Comments

  1. Ron

    September 8, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    That is a wonderful collection of ‘hellos’, very well presented and not academic.

    Bravo

  2. candy

    November 8, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    thanks a lot

  3. Michael

    January 12, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Suppose you don’t know a person’s ethnicity. How
    would you say “hello”?

    • Odera

      April 6, 2018 at 1:46 am

      You can just say, ‘I hail o’ or ‘How far’ which are ways in Pidgin English to say Hello.

      • Koko Nyenihi

        March 19, 2019 at 5:16 am

        Thanks for the interest. A few comments. As you know, these are dstinct languages, instead of dialects. As you can see Kedu (Igbo) and Bawoni (Yoruba) are distinctly different, against what one would expect of dialects.
        Emesiere (Mesiere for short) means good morning. So they were right, either “abadie” (Akwa Ibom state) or “etie didie” (Cross river state) would work for all hours of the day. As for Pidgin, “”How now?” would work better for hello. ‘How far’ implies that you already had a conversation going on about something. It’s like saying “ what’s the progress?” Hope that helps.
        All the best.

    • Oriola idera.

      August 7, 2018 at 5:30 am

      You can tell the person hello in English

    • Chinonso

      February 3, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Just say hello English is the common language in Nigeria

  4. Sandra

    May 16, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    What is the best way to learn the language of Nigerians. Book or audio,

    • A. Keish

      July 12, 2018 at 6:36 pm

      Sandra, you’ll need both the book and audio.

    • Abubakar Sadeeq

      January 6, 2019 at 12:04 am

      Im from Nigeria,Should I help you?

    • Eli

      February 1, 2019 at 5:34 pm

      Go ask a speaker of your choice of dialect I am 10 years old and speak fluent Yoruba

  5. Roy o.

    June 5, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Great job.

  6. Kimberly

    August 14, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks alot very interesting!!
    I’m studing the Ibibio language.

  7. Kimberly

    August 14, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    I am very interested in the Efik/Ibibio language I recently started studing…Thanks so much for this site it’s very helpful!

    • Cathy

      November 26, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Can you tell me the site please? I’m coming to Nigeria to marry my Igbo man and want to please him with some language learning

  8. Resameokim Oyama

    August 31, 2018 at 9:46 pm

    Lol I suggest you just say hello, Good morning, afternoon or evening. You cannot always tell where the person is from. In Cross River alone,there are over a hundred languages with totally different greetings. Mesiere won’t do for just any crossriverian.

  9. Ese

    September 25, 2018 at 1:49 am

    Everyone in Nigeria speaks English. It’s the universal language.

  10. Waje

    October 6, 2018 at 8:12 am

    Say Bawo Ni in a Yoruba setting and guaranteed, you will sound like a Tout. Best thing is to say Hello or good morning/afternoon/evening in English. After all it’s the national language.

  11. Ann j

    October 8, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Thanks a lot,nice keep it up.

  12. David

    November 18, 2018 at 5:18 am

    ijaws laguage

  13. David

    November 18, 2018 at 5:20 am

    tebra
    ijaw language

    • Obi Oki

      December 20, 2018 at 3:00 am

      Aaaaaaaah Izon

  14. Naeus

    November 18, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    I want to make one correction here..you wrote Ibo…it is IGBO not Ibo please.
    Thanks

  15. Murali

    December 4, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Which Language for most used in Nigariya

  16. Joan Schulz

    February 9, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I am speaking with a man from Nigeria, I thought he told me his native was IBU?

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