Saturday, October 14, 2017

Various Examples Of The Nigerian Pidgin English Terms "Shakara" & "Do Shakara"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post explores the possible changing meanings of the Nigerian Pidgin English terms "shakara" and "do shakara" by documenting some examples of song lyrics, online definitions, and online comments that include those terms.

My comments about those terms are presented in the Addendum to this post.

The content of this post is presented for linguistics and socio-cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

I'm an African American who is interested in language usage and other aspects of African cultures and other cultures of the African Diaspora. I'm not a linguist.

I've gleaned information about Nigerian Pidgin English from reading various online articles and YouTube discussion threads. For the most part, I've cited online definitions for these terms and phrases, but in a few cases, I've also shared my guesses about possible meanings (admittedly from the standpoint of someone outside of Nigerian and West African cultures).

Additions and corrections are very welcome.

I've attempted to present these selected examples in relative chronological order based on their posting date or, in the case of records, their publishing dates or the dates that I retrieved them if no publishing date is given.

I've numbered these examples for referencing purposes only. I've added italics for the words "shakara" and/or "Do shakara" for longer quotes.

1. From
"AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson

Fela Kuti was often described as "the James Brown of Africa," but one could also argue that he was Africa's equivalent of Miles Davis or John Coltrane. Truth be told, either description is valid. Kuti was highly eclectic, and his innovative, visionary music contained elements of funk/soul, jazz, and blues, as well as African music. That eclectic spirit proves to be a major asset on Shakara, which consists of two 13-minute performances by Kuti's Africa 70 band: "Lady" and "Shakara (Oloie)." Performed in English, "Lady" finds Kuti criticizing modern African women in a humorous way for becoming what he sees as overly westernized and embracing a western view of feminism. You might agree or disagree with the song's viewpoint, but the groove and the beat are irresistible. Equally addictive -- and equally sarcastic -- is "Shakara (Oloje)," which is sung in both Yoruba and English and makes fun of the type of pompous, loud-mouthed braggarts who can never make good on their empty boasts."

Excerpt of lyrics from Fela's song "Shakara":
...Shakara oloje ni o

We get the Shakara man
We get the Shakara woman
Shakara man, him go say
"I go beat you, I go nearly kill you"

Na Shakara, I go beat you
Go beat am and get accident
Na Shakara

You no know me, na Shakara
Wait make I commot my dress
Na Shakara

You see, even if you do nothing
Na Shakara oloje
We get a song for that
We go sing am like this, we go sing
Ah, ah, ah ni, ah ni, ah ni"....
Click Source: the complete lyrics for this song.

Click for a pancocojams post about Fela Kuti's song "Shakara (Oloje).

1. From
To show off. Word derived from a popular Fela Kuti song titled "Shakara Olu Oje". Commonly used amongst Nigerian youth.
sucks teeth- Ibeyemi waitin de shakara for now.

trans from pidgin English: Ibeyemi, why are you showing off?
by Naija girl June 17, 2005
trans= translation

3. From
Re: Girl Can You Toast A Guy, by babycool(f): 2:18pm On Feb 13, 2008

I usually prefer to do the chasing now in my life. In ma teens and early 20's I liked to be chased. Now I find it very boring that a guy should chase me--with their mumuscious moves. Kai! [angry icon]

I am way past that phase. I do the chasing since I hit 25! [cool icon]

Gosh! We have a lot of local country peeps on this Nairaland I swear! Villagers! Hmmm!

In this day and age of man to women ratio of 1:50? Make una siddon for thia dey wait for who to chase una. You can wear all the mini and midi skirts dey parade for nairaland--ain't gonnnna happen if you do not move your blooming tail!

You damn right I am gonnna be doing the chasing--he does not have to respect me. I just need him to co-operate jest a lirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrle! [cheesy icon]

Lol!! grin grin grin [icons]

Sis no mind them, na so dem go dey do shakara, one sis go collect their guy before their korokoro eyes, dem no sabi!!!
"toast" means "woo"

"koro-koro", meaning "clear vision"

I think this last sentence means "Sis, don't mind them [the people who are criticizing you]. If you aren't forward and chase after a man, another woman is going to take him before your wide open eyes, you better know it!

In this sentence, I think the description of a Shakara woman (a woman who does shakara is a modern urban woman who isn't afraid to flaunt society's rules about the man being the one who does the wooing. This description fits with Fela Kuti's 1972 album Shakara with its criticism of "westernized females"*. But in this case, the attitudes and behavior of the Shakara woman is considered a positive.
*Read the review excerpt given as #1.
4. From,31961.0.html
"delemang at 08:04 PM, 11 Mar 10 (7 years ago)
(m) [male]
WOMEN I just dey look all of you as your shakara don rise to high level of excellent performance, no be your fault ooo, Na Eve give you chance .... if not all your dis and dat thing we go dey watch for street for free and he for good like that.... or you want defend yourself? ok carry go and lets see. but remember I am an angel that cannot be seen nakedly so weting you want talk? Grin Roll Eyes Shocked Kiss"
I think a standard English translation for this sentence is:
WOMEN, I just look at all of you as your shakara [showing off your body?] rises to high levels of excellent performance. It's really not your fault. It was Eve that gave you your chance....People can go back and forth about the reasons we watch women switching down the street and we men really like that....or do you want to defend yourselves? ok. carry on and let's see/ but remember. I am an angel who cannot be physically be seen so what do you want to say about this? [icons: Grin, Roll Eyes, Shocked, Kiss]

5. chik001 at 01:54 PM, 12 Mar 10
(m) [male]
"Na that shakara makes running after girls fun and gratifying. we men like to conquer and we dont appreciate what comes easy!!.
I think that in this sentence the Nigerian Pidgin English word "na" means "it's because"...

6. queenjacky at 11:32 AM, 13 Mar 10
(f) [female]
"no wonder that a guy like u ask us girl why we do shakara"

7. Reply
Bazemaster at 11:38 AM, 13 Mar 10 (7 years ago)
(m) [male]
@poster, it is because na dem get their body
I think this sentence means something like "They do it because they have the body for it."

Corrections of these translations are welcome.

8. summary from
Shakara Babe Nigerian Movie Review; Date Of Release: 2011
"Naive village girl Kate (Ebube Nwagbo) is perturbed by her husband David’s (Charles Awurum) lack of interest in her. He is dazzled by the city girls he sees and despite Kate doting on him and “making her head” he makes fun of her use of piegeon english and village dress sense. In a desperate bid to make her husband take notice of her she consults her auntie Kiki who vows to turn her into a real city girl with the money she has been saving up since before she left the village. Kate is resistant to change but auntie Kiki conducts a full body makeover so that Kate can seduce her husband. Will he. Come to his wife and stop chasing the city girls that so mesmerise him?
Kates naivety knows no bounds. Kiki is using her to punish David for sleeping with her and dashing her. Greg is using her for cheap thrills and Peter and Paul call her village mumu behind her back whilst using her for their own entertainment."
My guess is that the "Shakara Babe" is the "real city girl" and is the opposite of the descriptions used for the "village girl" who speaks "pidgin English" and "village dress sense", the village mumu.

Here's a definition for the Nigerian Pidgin English word "mumu" from

Re: Most Frequently Used Insult In Nigeria by nedu2000(m): 11:32am On Nov 06, 2011

Non-Nigerian here. What does "Mumu" mean?
'mumu' means - a senseless person,an slowpoke,idiot,a stupid person"

9. From
Re: Nigerian Pidgin English And Their Meanings by KayDee4: 1:06am On Jan 04, 2012
"make/do shakara/inyanga (spelling unsure) - to front"
I don't know the Nigerian Pidgin English definition for "inyanga". Here's a definition for "nganga" from
Nganga is a Bantu term for herbalist or spiritual healer in many African societies and also in many societies of the African diaspora such as those in Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba. It is derived from *-ganga in proto-Njila, an early branch of the Bantu family.[1] The verb form related to it, -gang- relates to wisdom, knowledge and skill. As this term is a multiple reflex of a Proto-Bantu root, there are slight variations on the term throughout the entire Bantu-speaking world"...
*"definition for "front" [also given as frontin']
Urban slang. To put up a facade or make appearances, typically to impress or in some way deceive to maintain image. From 'to front'.
He be frontin' - that Benz be a rental!
by T.D. January 20, 2003
"Urban" here means "African American Vernacular English".

10. From What’s the English word for “Shakara” as in, Inyanga (in pidgin) is, Anybody?
What’s the English word for “Shakara” by sollie001: 7:21 am on Jul 11. 2013
[responses given were:
show off

11. From What’s the English word for “Shakara” by sollie001: 12:37 am on Jul 12. 2013
"However, when the action is continuous, I think “showing off” is better. As in:
Why are you doing shakara?
Why are you showing off?
Why are you fronting*

*The first sound better to me o*"

12. From Google books
"Retail Market Study 2013: - Page 835 - Google Books Result
Marc-Christian Riebe - 2013 - ‎Law
Okunoren Twins opened flagship store One of Nigeria's most successful fashion ... Shakara Couture officially launched its brand & opened its flagship store in ..."

13. From "Re: How To Make Forming Pretty Girls Crazily Fall In Love With You. by Raxxye(m): 2:47pm On Nov 05, 2015

Today, I’m going to expose some secrets to you…
Here is the thing;
- One; girls always get guys coming around them - every single time. Walk through a girl's Facebook inbox and you will be marveled at the tons of unread messages in it. In real life, same thing happens - they get approached by guys all the time. An average girl gets approached by at least two guys every week or two guys everyday if she is pretty (And that is 4 guys every week)
This attention gets to a girl's head, she starts feeling like a prize and when that happens – “shakara” steps in.

14. From
"Monday, 28 December 2015

Gladys (MC SHAKARA) Nigerian/Ireland Ace Comedian
otherwise known as MC SHAKARA of shakara media Ireland is doing well for herself and well recognized in Ireland as first lady of comedy. She obtained MSc in International Communication at Dublin City University and a former staff at DAAR Communication Nigeria (AIT/Raypower) with significant experience in media. MC Shakara is a topclass MC/Comedian who has host several events in Ireland including weddings, birthdays, Afro-entertainment, community events etc and also organised her own comedy show occasionally around county Kildare area of Ireland."

15. From
"Re: Why Do Ugly Ladies Do Shakara The Most by Cutehector(m): 8:05pm On Aug 23, 2015
Lol.. Yound girls do dat d most sha...
Young girls do that the most anyway [ or "like that"].
Definition: anyway; like that Example:
1) Make we just do am sha.
2) The girl na mumu sha.
3) Sha sha, na so the guy just leave me there o.

Here are my attempts at translating these Nigerian Pidgin English sentences to standard English.
Corrections are welcome.
1. We just do it like that.
2. Anyway, the girl is a fool.
3. Anyway, the guy just left me there. [said with a lot of emotion.]

16. Re: Why Do Ugly Ladies Do Shakara The Most by xpac01(m): 8:06pm On Aug 23, 2015
As in ehh.
I ever asked a lady sha, she told me its just a way of testing the guy, to know if he's actually sure and serious with what he is seeing and saying."
I even asked a lady about that....

17. Re: Why Do Ugly Ladies Do Shakara The Most by QueenEdna(f): 8:22pm On Aug 23, 2015
"I guess its a 'defense strategy', cos D̶̲̥̅̊ε̲̣̣̣̥γ̲̣̣̥ prolly knw frm experience dt most guys makn advances@dem jst wanna 'hit aΩ̴̩̩̩̥d̶̲̥̅̊ run'. So wt dt attitude D̶̲̥̅̊ε̲̣̣̣̥γ̲̣̣̥ can easily detect whose real aΩ̴̩̩̩̥d̶̲̥̅̊ not."

18. Re: Why Do Ugly Ladies Do Shakara The Most by wtfCode: 8:47pm On Aug 23, 2015
because most of them are beautiful inside. This type of gals are always u dont get that cheaply. Bt 4 me, if u do shakara too much 4 me, i dey leave u sharperly.
"dey" = will

19. Re: Why Do Ugly Ladies Do Shakara The Most by Stephansmily(f): 10:13pm On Aug 23, 2015

....Nah won't fear ya, most times its just a defence mechanism people use to push others away

Not in my case"
I get the sense that "do shakara" here means that these women have "attitude", act prickly and hard to get toward men who are trying to talk to them romantically.

Is this what these commenters are saying?

"Not in my case, means that that male commenter sees through this attitude, and tough street girl act and won't be pushed away from a woman because of that.

20. From the discussion thread for the sound file of Fela Kuti's 1972 song "Shakara":
Oyaator Bhoy, 2016
"Shakara is a Anglophone-West Africa word used for describing when one person is displaying "rhetorical bravado" to scare someone else. In the song, he refers to two examples of Shakara. (1) A man threatening to fight and beat him up in the streets and (2) a woman he is trying to woo telling him off that he is not good enough for her. He labelled it "Shakara Oloje", which in proper English means "It is a Shakara trick". The man, Fela claims cannot fight, he just wants to threaten and hopes he (i.e. Fela) runs. The woman, he claims she wants it but she is just feigning chastity and superiority."

21. From the lyrics for Nigerian Gospel singer Eben's song "Victory":
"Because of Jesus everyday na shakara I dey do"
Here are three comments from this YouTube video's discussion thread:
- Don CoraggioMaria O. Peters Usunobun, 2016
"@Eben keep releasing the bomb of Praise. Yahweh is His name. Shakara for Jesus my brother."

- Oyinkansola Yusuf, 2016
"because of Jesus everyday na shakara I dey do"

- Devine ministries, 2016
"Eben beko! give us more music like this I can't stop doing shakara I think that's my new name"
Click for a pancocojams post about this song.

22. From
"Cheap Quality Wears Now @ Do-shakara Stores by DOSHAKARASTORES: 2:36pm On May 04, 2016
Hurry now!!
Do-Shakara Online Stores has alot of male and female wears,watches,jerseys,beautiful foreign transparent PVC business cards and lots more...
Affordable prices...


What About You?

23. From
Shakara Babes - Nigerian Nollywood Latest 2016 Comedy Movie
Nigerian Nollywood Movies - Latest Movies, Published on Feb 12, 2016

"A man went to the village to marry and treats her like a fool. No matter what she does, he feels dissatisfied until she met someone that made her a big girl. Starring: Charles Inojie, Ebube Nwagbo, Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze."

I'm not sure if this is the same 2011 movie that is reviewed above #8.

24. From; no publishing date is given;
"Black kings are born in May shirt

Black Kings and Queens are born in June, Taiwo and Kenny Clock 2 today,Happy birthday to our little shining star. You are turning into a beautiful young lady and young man with a heart full of love. We are proud to be your parents and you deserve to have a special day dedicated to you.A day Munira Umar was born, as you marked the beginning of a new year in your life, may you match to your success and destiny, increase in Iman,Allah’s love, affection and mercy. Happy birthday to my darling sister from another mother, my bestie, and my course mate, my rummie, my P.A., Munira Umar. Happy birthday once more Black Queen WULLNP, Abeg do Shakara it your day.
This site includes a link to click for purchasing this sweat shirt/tee shirt.

25. From; no publishing date indicated; Retrieved October 14, 2017
"shakara: \sha-ca-ra\, verb; 1. to show off, showing off

"The word “shakara” came from the Yoruba-Nigerian song “Shakara Olu Oje” by Fela Kuti. As implied by the above definition, when one says that they’re doing shakara, they are saying that they are showing off. A majority of African dancing is very celebratory; dance is a form of art that allows one to express themselves through the use of music and movement. If one is going to dance, they should “do shakara” (or show off) when doing so.

The goal of this club is to use the art of dance and choreograph routines to share African culture. As a campus, African culture is expressed thru a community service project implementing organization and singing choir. Do Shakara will not only provide students with another means of continuing to share African culture with Trinity’s campus, but also a non-judgmental, educational, and fun-filled social setting where students can foster new, long-lasting connections.

Shakara will be a club open to any student who takes an interest in dancing, and more specifically in African music and dance. At our first practice, popular songs and dances that circulated in African dance will be shared to give members an idea of what could be possibly performed. It is encouraged that any student that joins feel free to share their desires to work with any specific songs or dances that members would like to incorporate into a choreographed routine. Suggestions for choreography will always be welcomed!"

Contact Information
300 summit st
Hartford, CT 06106

Other 2000s examples [no publishing date given]
26. From
"Definition: This word means when someone is posing or showing off
Example: 1. See dis boy, you just dey shakara"

27. From
"Do-Shakara Stores (@doshakarastores)
We offer products that span various categories including Phones, Computers, Clothing, Shoes, wrist watches, personal care and much more."

28. From
"Black kings are born in May shirt

Black Kings and Queens are born in June, Taiwo and Kenny Clock 2 today,Happy birthday to our little shining star. You are turning into a beautiful young lady and young man with a heart full of love. We are proud to be your parents and you deserve to have a special day dedicated to you.A day Munira Umar was born, as you marked the beginning of a new year in your life, may you match to your success and destiny, increase in Iman,Allah’s love, affection and mercy. Happy birthday to my darling sister from another mother, my bestie, and my course mate, my rummie, my P.A., Munira Umar. Happy birthday once more Black Queen WULLNP, Abeg do Shakara it your day.
Abeg= Nigerian Pidgin English word that means "please".

This page includes a link to buy this sweat shirt.

29. From
Biographie, January 6, 2017
The Biography Of MC Shakara (Comedian) [Age, Life Profile & Net Worth]
Posted By: Michael Uzoma Michael MC Shakara, Nigerian Comedians
"Kenneth Agberia popularly known as MC Shakara is a Nigerian comedian. MC Shakara is one of Nigeria’s award winning comedians who hails from Delta State but was born in Port Harcourt. He grew up and schooled in Jos and later furthered to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria."...

30. From
Nigerian Pidgin English line with standard English translation from [Nigerian singer Davido's song "If"
"No do no do no do shakara o eh"
:- Don’t show off

It seems to me that Fela Kuti uses "shakara" as an adjective or a noun (i.e. -the Shakara woman; the Shakara man"). It also seems to me that the descriptor is negative and refers to women who are "westernized", and/or women who are bold, and even crazy acting.

Does the adjective "shakara" mean an extremely confident self assertive female or male who expects people to compliment her/him and who is not afraid to flaunt societal limits, in particular, a woman who "does shakara" is forward, and will "chase" after a man, and not wait for the man to chase after her.

That said, in the comments about

Could this willingness to test of defy the limits and even act crazy explain why the two comedians who are included in this post chose the name "MC Shakara"? Note that the "MC" title is reminisce of the 1980s or 1990s African American Hip Hop music scene.

In the decades since 1972 when Fela's Shakara album was first released, "shakara" and "doing shakara" [in their Nigerian non-religious applications] appear to have been considered (and is still considered) as something positive. Perhaps it has something to do with Nigerians valuing urban life vs rural village life. [?]

The nairaland comments given here from the discussion thread "Re: Why Do Ugly Ladies Do Shakara The Most" seem to use the opposite definition of "doing shakara"- a woman acting "hard to get".

Is my interpretation of those comments correct?

It seems to me that the comments the discussion thread of Nigerian Gospel singer Eben's 2016 video "Victory" give another definition of "doing shakara", i.e. "showing off"= dancing for the Lord, and/or not being afraid or ashamed to praise God in public.

The 2015 Nigerian Gospel video "Shakara in Jesus" by Divine Kids show pre-teen children dancing while singing Gospel music. The dancing is performed with "posed" styles, in the "fashion run way" model meaning of "posed", presumably to fit what "shakara" (showing off) for Jesus means.

"Shakara" is an Arabic word that is usually said to mean "giving thanks". Some linguistics write that the more correct meaning for the Arabic word "shakara" is "I thank God."* "Shukr" is the source of the Arabic word "shakara".* The female name "Shakira" and the male name "Shakir" are also from the word "shukr".*

Did the Nigerian word "shakara" originally come from the Arabic word "shukr, even though the Nigerian Pidgin meaning and the Arabic meaning (at least currently) appear to be quite different?
*Online sources for the information about Arabic meanings for "shakara" and "shukr"

*Google Books: Arab Nahdah: The Making of the Intellectual and Humanist Movement: ...
Abdulrazzak Patel - 2013 -
..."after teaching Arabic for a year at the Jesuit school in Cairo, he returned to the “incorrect” use of the verb shakara li as shakara lahu 'alā iasānihi, shakara li-iasānihi, shakara lahu li-iasānihi which all have the meaning “to thank someone for something”....For Al-Yaziji*, the correct and more eloquent use of the verb was ..."I thanked Allah for [his] gift”.
*the name "Al-Yaziji" is given without the spelling markers

If the Nigerian word "shakara" comes from Arabic, then that religious meaning is closer to the original meaning.

I think that the "Do Shakara" stores and online marketing platforms* are banking on the Westernized aspect of the self-confident, urban buyers (in Nigeria and I suspect elsewhere). I find this ironical in a sad way given the fact that Fela Kuti's 1972 Shakara album was critical of the "westernization" of Nigerian women.
Note that the fashions and other products that are sold in those stores appear to be "straight out of the USA" or at least imitative of the fashions and products that are sold if not made in the USA.

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