If ever you stumble upon Yagazie Emezi’s various social media pages, be prepared to get hooked. Her Youtube channel boasts deeply honest, no holds barred personal stories on topics like bulimia, social anxiety, and masturbation–all things many African women don’t usually talk about publicly.
Emezi, who is also a cartoonist, was born and raised in Nigeria, but moved to the United States to attend college. Around 2011, she developed a love for vlogging and photography. In 2014, she decided to return to Nigeria with the goal of documenting her country beyond mainstream media portrayals of Africa. Her Instagram page is an honest and artful display of life in the West African nation showcased through the eyes of a native who is in process of getting reacquainted with her homeland. It’s a view that is both necessary and becoming more common as more and more young Africans living abroad choose to return home. Emezi represents the best of what that reverse migration has to offer.
We spoke to Emezi about what inspires her work.
How would you describe your personality?
The most dominant part of my personality is my need to be alone, which most people who don’t me would find hard to believe! I’m generally a happy go-lucky sort of person who enjoys laughing at little things. But that chipper nature can quickly disappear when I find myself around people for too long. In other words, I’m a hardcore introvert. I value intimate interactions, but have the need to recharge constantly. Some people would describe me as spontaneous, which is false! I actually spend a decent amount of time thinking about my actions before carrying them out. However, I do like taking chances!
You currently live in Nigeria but you also lived in the US. What has the transition been like going back and forth? How has it impacted the way you communicate on social media and beyond?
Moving to Lagos was a big transition for me, bigger than moving to the U.S. I was raised around people from various parts of the world and was lucky to travel with my family when I was younger so transitioning to the States was easy because I knew what to expect. Compared to where I grew up, EVERYTHING was easier in the U.S. However, Lagos was another case. Although I’m Nigerian, I was now in a world so much different from what I had been familiar with growing up. See it’s like this; someone born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, moving to London – the language and faces are a bit familiar so you can at least talk and comprehend what people are saying to an extent, but everything else is different. Having both worlds hasn’t actually impacted my social media but it definitely has marked my view of the world in terms of how I relate to people for the better.
Your Youtube channel is great. You talk about things that a lot of Nigerian women don’t speak about publicly in such a way (masturbation and struggling with bulimia). How did you become so open to being so open?
I’ve always been outspoken, but I recognized a need for more representation on these topics and wanted to contribute however I could.
You do an amazing job of showcasing the different sides of life in Nigeria. What inspired this?
This goes hand in hand with my openness and what has really been a life-long interest in humanity and our cultures. I believe it is important to show people how connected we all are so I don’t just show different sides of Nigeria, but also everywhere else that I end up in. I personally find it fascinating how so many people can be drawn to one image and find something common in it.
Do you have a girl crush? If so, name her (them).
Can I crush on my own sister? Her name is Akwaeke Emezi, an amazing writer who motivates me and my creativity with hers.