10 ways to say hello to a Nigerian

Nigerian women

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.

It is the first word we use from the moment we pick up the phone, to the moment we meet someone for the first time and even when starting a conversation.

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.


This is the Igbo translation of hello. It literally translates as “how are you”, and is by far the most commonly used greeting by Igbo 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.


This is used in Benin and neighbouring 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”.


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.


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


A traditional Nigerian greeting used by the Idoma in Benue State, Abole translates roughly as “how are you?” or simply “hello”.


Literally translated as “how are you?”, Mavo is the way the Urhobo 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, friends 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.


“Hey” is commonly considered rude when used in reference with people who you do not  know well. It is common 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?”

Contributed by Nkem Ndem, Travel/Tech Writer, Jumia Travel 

Skype: live:nkemndemv, Twitter: @ndemv, Instagram: @kem_dem