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The Rise of Japada: Why Many Nigerians Are Moving Back Home After Living Abroad



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The lexicon of Nigerian migration is filled with terms that have evolved over time, reflecting the nation’s complex relationship with the concept of moving abroad. Two words stand out-Japa and Japada. While “Japa” refers to the act of leaving Nigeria for greener pastures overseas, “Japada” is the term used for those who, having left, decide to come back home. Remarkably, in the past few years, there has been a significant shift from Japa to Japada, as many Nigerians who once sought a life abroad are making the trek back home. This article aims to explore why this shift is happening and what it means for Nigeria.

The Allure of “Japa”

For years, the dream of many young Nigerians has been to “Japa,” or travel abroad in search of a better life. Stories of relatives and friends who’ve moved to countries like the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom and succeeded have fueled this aspiration. The common belief was that greener pastures could only be found abroad, leading to a mass exodus of talent and skills, often referred to as the ‘brain drain.’

The Reality Check: Not Always Greener on the Other Side

However, the rose-tinted lenses through which life abroad was often viewed have slowly been replaced by a more nuanced understanding. Several factors, such as stringent immigration laws, culture shock, discrimination, and difficulty in finding satisfying work, have made many Nigerians rethink their decisions. Suddenly, the romanticized “Japa” dream seemed not to hold all the answers.

The Rise of “Japada”

This realization has led to the phenomenon of “Japada,” a slang term for those who opt to return after an unsuccessful or disillusioning stint abroad. Many Nigerians are discovering that despite its challenges, there’s no place like home. They are finding that their skills, experience, and capital are not only welcomed but also needed in Nigeria.

Why Are People Choosing to Return?

Economic Opportunities
Nigeria’s economy is undergoing transformation, with growing industries like technology, entertainment, and agriculture providing a plethora of opportunities. For many returnees, the potential for entrepreneurial success is far greater in Nigeria than abroad.

Emotional and Cultural Connection
Nothing replaces the emotional and cultural ties one has with their homeland. Many returnees speak of missing the strong sense of community and the deep connections they have with family and friends in Nigeria.

Skills Transfer
Having acquired new skills and perspectives while abroad, many Nigerians find that they can contribute more effectively to their country’s development upon return. They are often more appreciated for their international experience and can command better positions and salaries.

Social Impact
Beyond personal gain, some Nigerians are returning with the intent of making a significant social impact. They engage in community projects, start NGOs, and invest in sectors that can benefit the wider population.

The Challenges and the Way Forward

Returning to Nigeria is not without its difficulties. From infrastructural issues to the need for professional readjustment, “Japada” is a complex process. However, the challenges are not insurmountable, especially as more resources and networks are emerging to help returnees reintegrate.

The trend of moving from Japa to Japada signifies a shift in the mindset of many Nigerians. It is a statement of belief in the country’s potential and a commitment to be part of its growth and development. While life abroad may offer certain advantages, the pull of the homeland, combined with increasing opportunities, is proving to be a stronger force for many.

It will be fascinating to observe how this reverse migration continues to impact Nigeria socially, economically, and culturally. One thing is for sure: The narrative of Japa to Japada is still being written, but it already speaks volumes about the resilience and optimism of the Nigerian people.

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