Africa is one continent that has been misunderstood and misconstrued since pretty much the moment it was “discovered”. And since then it has been a struggle to completely unveil ourselves to the world as we really are. Someone who’s been adamant to do this in a proactive way is YAGAZIE EMEZI, a Nigerian national who is using popular video sharing platform YouTube, to tell Africa’s modern story.
In the welcome message on her YouTube channel, it immediately becomes clear that Emezi is a free spirit and global citizen in her outlook on life. On the subject of her and other female Nigerian YouTubers, she says, “Not all of us are alike, not all of us agree on the same things, but through our different opinions and subject matters, I feel that we’re representing the different types of women in Nigeria and that’s pretty much what I like to do!”
Her 15,000+ YouTube subscribers get treated to an array of raw and candid vlogs about her life, sex, relationships and any topic she feels like sharing. Nothing is off limits. However, vlogging is not the only thing she does.
Emezi was born and raised in Aba, Nigeria. She then left for the United States when she was 16 years old. She enrolled in the University of New Mexico for a Cultural Anthropology and African Studies degree. She began her blogging and vlogging adventure in 2011. Through this sharing with others, she developed a deep love of photography, and in 2014, she left the US to return to Lagos with one goal in mind: to document life in Nigeria as it truly is. And now, on top of vlogging, she is also a successful photographer.
She specializes in capturing her surroundings in stark pictures that bring out the beauty of Nigeria, as mundane as they may have seemed to any other passer-by. “I have always had a passion for the preservation of the African aesthetic,” she told the Huffington Post. Her portraiture of the people she runs into on the streets of Nigeria is breath-taking and mesmerizing. Her Instagram page is inundated with these beautiful works where her 92,000 followers get to experience her life, in real time. “I’ve created a digital platform of the photographers and their work, using my social media numbers to push their visibility. [Social media] has helped my photography and videos in really unexpected ways,” she revealed to The Huffington Post.
She also dabbles in cartoon drawing with the character she created, ‘Yaga’ whom she draws in mostly amusing everyday situations. She has a separate Instagram page for these cartoons.
Her work has been recognized in Nigeria and she has collaborated with Lagos Fashion Week and the annual music celebration in honour of Fela Anikulakpo Kuti, “Felebration.” This year, she embarked on a cross-country road trip through Nigeria in partnership Invisible Borders, alongside a wide array of writers, filmmakers and photographers, documenting life across the Nigeria.
Emezi is a mentor on the Cointreau Creative Crew, a program set to promote the development of women’s creative freedom and expression. She found young photographers throughout the continent and uses her large social media platforms to showcase their work.
Breaking stereotypes, crossing boundaries; these are her legacies and she keeps feeding into the same. “I shudder to think about the limiting views people could have of who and what an ‘African woman’ is in today’s day and age. She is you and I, she is everything and anyone. Her possibilities and versatilities are limitless and I can’t imagine anyone having just one view of who she is or can be,” she told the Huffington Post.
For her, everyone’s got something to bring to the table, and as she keeps documenting her story, she is inspired to help others do so too.