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For the second time in as many months, a phrase–and one that may sound like nonsense to the uninitiated–has gone viral thanks to African Twitter.
First it was “sco pa tu manaa,” which we have since learned is a slang term in Hawaiian culture that took off after it was featured in a song by Ghanaian recording artist Kawoula Biov earlier this year. The phrase, as intended, typically means, “What experience does this remind you of?” or “I’ll hit you.” And now, “bomboclaat” is the latest term to take over Twitter.
Much like sco pa tu manaa, bomboclaat is a slang albeit expletive term that originated in Jamaica. As Techpoint.Africa points out, however, it began to be picked up by Nigerian Twitter over the past month or so, before eventually spreading like wildfire across the platform.
The phrase seems to have been first tweeted by Jamaican Twitter user @rudebwoy_lamz in early September, who paired it with the “Winslow’s seen enough” meme from the Nicktoons series CatDog.
One month later, after the phrase incorrectly began to be used interchangeably with “sco pa tu manaa,” rudebwoy_lamz quote-tweeted the tweet that started it all.
“Me coming to twitter to see them misusing bomboclaat,” rudebwoy_lamz wrote.
Others, mostly Jamaicans, likewise jumped in to school bomboclaat misinterpreters on Twitter.
“Why are yankees using ‘bomboclaat’ in place of ‘sco pa tu manaa’? just stop it now,” Twitter user @dreadheadjared wrote.
why are yankees using “bomboclaat” in place of “sco pa tu manaa” ? just stop it now— jared (@dreadheadjared) October 19, 2019
As far as what bomboclaat actually means, the rough translation boils down to, “What is eating you up?” or “What is troubling you?” Urban Dictionary defines it as a “common Jamaican expletive” that can be used in “either extremes of excitement or sadness or vexation at a person or just as an expression.” It can apparently be used interchangeably with expressions such as “damn,” “oh my gosh,” “shoot,” darn,” or “hell.”
“Hi non-Jamaicans: The term ‘bumboclaat’ or ‘bomboclaat’ does not mean what you think it does. It is not a greeting, a question, or a means of asking ones opinion. It is an expletive, one used to express shock, anger, excitement, or befuddlement. So stop using it. Thanks,” Twitter user @rin_becalm explained.
Hi non-Jamaicans:— im very broke, don't invite me places (@rin_becalm) October 5, 2019
The term 'bumboclaat' or 'bomboclaat' does not mean what you think it does. It is not a greeting, a question, or a means of asking ones opinion. It is an expletive, one used to express shock, anger, excitement, or befuddlement. So stop using it. Thanks.
Now that we’ve got that established, here are some others using the term bomboclaat on Twitter (to varying degrees of success).
Bomboclaat! pic.twitter.com/xmzllEiZyh— Korede Belloved (@koredebello) October 11, 2019
Anyway, as the saying goes, bomboclaat today, and the internet will move onto the next thing tomorrow (just ask sco pa tu manaa).
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.