With about 600,000 subscribers, Tayo Aina is one of Africa’s most prominent YouTubers. He started out as an Uber driver in Lagos — a job that gave him a better understanding of the city. Then he began creating videos that highlighted major landmarks and top real estate listings in Lagos. Now, he travels the continent documenting African stories and communities that are lost to the internet, sharing them with his thousands of followers. Through nuanced visual storytelling, he has shown Africa for what it is, erasing the decades of stereotypes ascribed to the continent by the Western media.
Rest Of World spoke with Aina about his career, his creative process, and the hurdles of being a traveling Nigerian content creator.
What do you love most about being a YouTube creator?
I love the freedom, the ability to travel to different places in the world, and the ability to meet people. Also, the impact it makes. I tell a lot of stories about people and places and then it resonates with a lot of people across the world. It’s a very flexible job. It’s a lot of work, though, but I’d rather be doing this than any other thing.
What initially drove your interest in traveling and documenting stories?
When I started making those videos, I started seeing what was resonating with a lot of people. Then I realized that there was nobody really covering and documenting Africa the way I was doing it. I decided that I would go hard on it and keep making more videos and keep documenting more African countries. Also because the Western media usually just showcases Africa in a negative light. They don’t really showcase all the awesome things that are happening here. I said, Okay, it’ll be good to put some positivity out into the world. I started making positive content about Africa, telling stories of people, places, culture, and lifestyle communities.
Your greatest challenge as a creator living in Nigeria?
It’s usually my Nigerian passport. I have faced limitations to access in so many countries because I’m Nigerian. Also, traveling across Africa is super expensive. Africa is the most expensive continent to travel across.
What do you hope to achieve in the long term?
I hope to build a big platform that is recognized across Africa and across the world, and [is] a platform that majorly spreads positivity — and also to build brands off that platform, to build media companies, and also to inspire a lot of people to build their own platforms and chase their dreams.