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7 Nigerian celebrities who set the ‘japa’ trend

Economic struggles and hope: ‘Sapa’ from ‘Japa’ Phenomenon

Before moving abroad became a trend, here are 7 Nigerian celebrities who were at the forefront of leaving the country’s shores to seek greener pastures elsewhere. They are the grandfathers and grandmothers of the Japa trend.

eLDee: A rap music general

Real name Lanre Dabiri, eLDee, born on May 23, 1977, was a trailblazer in the early generation of Nigerian rappers, notably as a member of the Trybesmen crew. Hailing from Kaduna, he led the Trybesmen, a band that took off in 1998, alongside rappers KB and Freestyle.

He crafted five solo albums before retiring from music in 2019, citing a desire to devote more time to his family. Nevertheless, eLDee occasionally indulges his fans with freestyles on social media. The retired artist has since relocated to the United States of America, leaving behind memorable tracks like “Big Boy” and “Is It Your Money.”

2Shotz: A wordsmith genius
Born William Orioha on March 3, 1981, 2Shotz embarked on his music career while in secondary school and subsequently committed to it upon enrolling at Lagos State University.

Renowned for blending English, pidgin English, and Igbo in his lyrics, he displayed a knack for witty rhymes. Originating from Surulere, Lagos State, 2Shotz migrated to the United States of America and transitioned to a career in photography and filmmaking. His portfolio boasts notable works such as “Carry Am Go,” “Odeshi,” and “Delicious.”

Read also Homelessness hits Nigerians’ most preferred ‘japa’ destination

Modenine: A rap legend seeking appreciation
At 48 years old, Babatunde Olusegun Adewale, known as Modenine, undeniably stands as one of the legends in the Nigerian rap scene. Born in London on June 14, 1975, he previously worked as a radio presenter at Rhythm 84.7fm in Abuja, Nigeria. Frustrated by the lack of recognition for his craft in Nigeria, Modenine also made the choice to depart for foreign shores. His repertoire includes chart-toppers like “Cry” and “Show Me Love.”

Bukky Wright: From acting to information security
Veteran Nollywood actress Bukky Wright, born on March 31, 1967, has made the transition from a thriving acting career to being one of the Nigerian celebrities to join the ‘Japa’ wave. A University of Lagos graduate with a degree in Economics, she began her acting journey in 1996 and became renowned for her roles in Wale Adenuga’s hit television series, Super Story. It’s now reported that the Nigerian screen diva has assumed the role of an Information Security Auditor in the United States.

Omoni Oboli: A multifaceted filmmaker and actress
Omoni Oboli, a proud mother of three boys, boasts many accomplishments, including film directing, producing, and digital filmmaking. She studied at the New York Film Academy and penned several blockbuster screenplays. Her filmography includes hits like “The Figurine,” “Anchor Baby,” “Fatal Imagination,” “Being Mrs. Elliott,” “The First Lady,” and “Wives on Strike.” While she and her family have relocated to Canada, Omoni Oboli maintains a strong presence in the Nigerian film industry, often travelling between the two countries for projects.

Helen Paul: A multi-talented comedienne
Renowned Nigerian comedienne Helen Paul is among the stars who have chosen to relocate to the United States of America. Despite her foreign base, she continues to represent Nigeria by hosting shows abroad and at home. With a doctorate in Theatre Arts from the University of Lagos and a professorship at a U.S. university, Helen Paul, known as Tatafo for her distinctive voice, was announced as the HOD of the Arts, Music, and Entertainment department at Heart International University in 2022.

Regina Askia: model, actress, nurse, and advocate
Regina Askia-Williams, born on December 16, 1967, is a versatile Nigerian movie star, model, and beauty queen. Presently based in the United States, she holds certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and practices in New York City. Regina Askia also actively advocates for African outreach in children’s health, education, and economic development