Chief Vera’s journey from dentistry to one of Enugu’s most popular YouTubers

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Published: 2022-06-17

This week on Everyday People, we have a conversation with a YouTuber who resides in Enugu, sometimes known as the Coal City. Vera Chidinma Okoh, also known as Chief Vera by her followers, takes us through her path from studying dentistry to producing material centered on Enugu. Vera is recognized by her admirers as "Chief Vera." Her tale is one of strength and perseverance; she has had to overcome prejudice, learn how to edit videos, and become an advocate for the education of children, among other challenges.

There was a period when I was interested in taking photographs of the city. Those images would have turned out beautifully, and a drone wouldn't have been able to provide what I was looking for. And even if I were to remain still, I wouldn't be able to understand it any better. Getting into a car with a roof that could be adjusted was the only way I could have accomplished what I needed to do. As a result, I was required to enter that location and then film from within that vehicle. Do you know that I drove around Enugu taking films while standing in that position? I was like,

" God, I beg you, please keep anyone who knows me from seeing me today.

For the reason that they would be like,

"What in the world is wrong with this girl?"

And the irony of the situation was that I was carrying a child at the time. But I didn't send anybody. I told myself,

" Vera, as of right now, you may confidently call yourself a creator on YouTube. That is something that can never be taken away from you."

The shy version of myself would never even consider doing anything like this, but there I was, standing and peering through the open roof of a car while driving around Enugu and taking movies for two hours. I was doing this.

But the truth is, in some way or another, the media has always been a component of who I am. I remember having a conversation with a friend when I was serving about producing a show on dentistry and the life of a dentist at the clinic. Back then, I hadn't given media much attention at all, but now as I look back on it, I see that I should have known that I was heading down a different path than the conventional one that everyone else was following.

Getting started with videos on YouTube

About Chief Vera

I began writing after school, during the time that I was supposed to be doing my internship, but it never materialized. Because I have a background in dentistry, I felt compelled to write about teeth and the ways in which individuals can take care of their teeth, particularly for Africans. because there were not a lot of blogs that were specifically geared at people of African descent. Along the way, I became aware that I was capable of doing other things besides writing about dental health and general wellbeing. As a result, I started penning down some stories.

While I was creating stories, I came to the realization that in addition to writing, I could also do television, video production, and all of those other things. But back then, I didn't have any experience working in television, and I didn't even get the chance to try because the majority of people I contacted told me that in order to work in structured media, you either need to have experience or know somebody who knows somebody else in the industry. But by that point, I had lost interest in the drawn-out procedure.

There are a lot of people who believe that our generation is the lucky one, is that correct? Because we have access to a wide variety of different venues where we can freely express ourselves. I decided to establish a weekly video series on Facebook in which I would discuss all aspects of life, including current events and trendy issues. So it continued to expand.

After that, someone informed me about YouTube and how one may monetize their presence on the platform. And because Facebook was not yet monetized at the time, I remarked to myself,

" Alright, let me take you over to YouTube so we can talk about this thing I'm doing."

Then I went to YouTube, and that's when I got another epiphany: both Abuja and Lagos have a lot of content uploaded to YouTube.

As soon as you conduct any kind of search in Nigeria, results for Lagos and Abuja will appear. After considering all of this, one might conclude that Nigeria just consists of two states: Lagos and Abuja. There was not a single person talking about anything else.

Therefore, I reasoned with myself that, rather than talking about the recent news that is literally available everywhere, I should focus the energy on producing something that is related to the state instead. Make sure that people are aware that there is a location known as Enugu, and that these are the kinds of things, people, and culture that can be found there. Let's talk about those things that people talk about for Lagos and Abuja, but let's talk about them for Enugu. You know what I'm talking about.

After that, I transformed into that individual. I didn't want to be someone who just talked and talked and talked about nothing. And with that, I launched my career and made the decision to become the spokesperson of Enugu, if that's the best way to describe what I do.

When I first started, though, the vast majority of what I was giving was essentially a reflection of what others from other places had generated. If someone, for example, was going to talk about the most expensive estates in Lagos or Abuja, I was going to build that.

After that, at some point in time, folks who watched my films began sending in requests.

"Vera, I would be interested in viewing this, and I would be interested in learning more about this."

As a result, that also influenced the stuff I created.

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I place a high value on input, and I especially appreciate it when it is provided in the form of comments or even emails. I believe that the purpose for my creation was one of the factors that differentiated me from others. I hope that it will enlighten you or else improve the quality of your life.

My proudest achievements, then, are those times when one of these videos turns out exactly how I envisioned it. People who were born in the 1980s or people who left Nigeria in the early 1990s or the middle of the 2000s may really find joy in the site that I upload a video of, which is a very nostalgic spot, and I get comments like, "Maybe you should have stayed in Nigeria."

" OMG Vera! I can't thank you enough. You have no idea how much help you have been to me just now!

And I'm sitting here thinking that this is exactly why I made this video.

On confronting and fighting against bigotry

When I was in school to learn how to edit videos, I distinctly remember being the only female student there. When I showed up for the first day of class, one of the instructors mistook me for someone else who had come to ask questions on their behalf. And he was like,

" What business do you have in this place?" And I responded, "I came here to educate myself."

Who is it for? Who exactly is this person?"

And he kept on gazing behind me. He was taken aback and informed me that he had never encountered a woman who was interested in learning.

I responded by saying, "I don't care." I want to learn because I make movies, and sometimes it takes a very long time to get these folks to edit, and when they do, they don't do what you like. I want to learn so that I can take control of the editing process. You wind up spending more money, more emotions (because you're furious), and also I wanted to do it myself because I didn't want to pay someone else to do it.

I even have crazier stories. So, there was this one occasion when I went to film my neighborhood in Enugu with two of my friends, one of whom flew the drone, and the other of whom was there for emotional support. I really enjoy delving deep into whatever it is that I'm working on, and our tour guide mentioned that there's an extremely risky spot, but that it's also the center of this community's activity.

If you don't address that issue, then it begs the question: "What are you doing?"

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When we arrived, we saw a couple of guys, and the first question they asked was, "Who are you?"

" What do you call yourselves?" I elaborated on it for them.

They gave their assent and stated, "Okay, but before you enter, you need to calm the boys down."

They started giving me examples of famous people and actresses who had filmed there, such as Phyno and Zubby Michael.

I responded by saying, "Ahan, these people are superstars. I don't even qualify as a regular star, let alone a super one. After that, we began to negotiate, and at some time, they became unreasonable in their demands.

I addressed one of them directly and said, "You know what? I'm done. This is not going to be captured on film. I'm leaving."

But they argued that because I'd come in here, I had to do what I'd come for; but, before I could do that, I needed to settle them first. It was like I was being held to ransom. In the end, we had no choice but to come to an agreement; they got what they wanted, and I got what I wanted out of the situation.

There are other locations where you will go and they will direct you to the manager, and it seems as though the majority of the managers got together and said they would never come into the office again. They will continue posting you if you ever manage to catch up with them. You are welcome to return either today or tomorrow. And I'm like,

" All I want is a drink before I leave this establishment, ahan!" It's all really exciting, but we're making progress!

Because I can't believe that even after going to five different venues, none of the managers are available to help me. They seem to be managing things from a distance. Or do they operate from a remote location? Because I don't get it.

Acquiring knowledge about the new Vera

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One thing that I can say with absolute certainty is that the learning curve has been interesting. You see, every day you learn something new, which is why the learning curve has been exciting. And I like it. Because it was something that I stumbled into by chance. If it had been something I had to study in school, it would have caused me to become quite strict. It has opened my eyes to the fact that I used to be pretty set in my planning ways.

I anticipate that I will still be living here in the coming five years. It has made me more aware of a great many opportunities and possibilities. I have also come to the conclusion that as long as you are willing to learn new things, there is really nothing that you are unable to achieve. I used to just stick to YouTube, but these days I also watch a lot of television.

Another thing that I've found out about myself is that I enjoy filming documentaries, even though I wasn't aware of this when I first started. The strange part is that it requires more of your time and effort than it should. But at the end of the day, I find that it provides me with a greater sense of fulfillment than watching any other kind of films. The other reason I enjoy conducting interviews is that I'm curious about the "why" and "how" behind things. What led to this occurrence? What led up to that event? My favorite things to do are those that bring attention to a problem or issue, or that clarify or explain something.

I'm not going to act as though I'm some kind of superwoman. Is it simple to do? In no uncertain terms, no. The only thing I do is try to organize a lot of different things into separate compartments. For instance, I work from nine in the morning until five in the afternoon at Afia TV, and because I have a contract to do anything for them, I am unable to quit for any reason. Then, with regard to my channel on YouTube, I am aware that after the regular nine to five shift, we have some free time.

Because each of these endeavors requires creative thought, the positive aspect is that I can be pondering something for television when I get an inspiration for my YouTube channel, or I can be pondering something for YouTube when I get an inspiration for television. Consequently, in order to prevent things from slipping away, I write them down.

Discovering Chief Vera

I was going through a really bizarre period of my life when I decided to start going by the name Chief Vera. During that time, I was in the midst of completing my doctoral studies in Nigeria when ASUU went on strike. I had reached that moment in my life where it seemed as like I had a lot of goals planned out, but none of them were working out. I was lost. Then, while scrolling through Instagram, I came across one of these motivational pictures. You know, one of those affirmations in which the individual basically says that you should concentrate on the positive aspects of yourself.

So I went back and reviewed what I had been working on. It appeared as though my nonprofit organization was doing well. I was able to get children enrolled in school again, as well as provide them with necessary resources.

 5 290Chief Vera with pupils she had given new school uniforms. Source: Millenial_literacy on Instagram

pay their fees to both the West African Examinations Council and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (WAEC and JAMB, respectively).

 6 290Chief Vera presenting a student with money for his West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) exam fees. Source: Millenial_literacy on Instagram

I was putting smiles on people's faces and doing all that. In the meantime, a lot of things were not going well for me, but while I was counting my blessings, an idea just occurred to me out of nowhere. I made a promise to myself that I would one day lead my tribe as a chieftain despite the fact that I am a woman. I even gave myself a chieftaincy name: Chief Aku n'seiobi ike, which means "money motivates or empowers you, gives you confidence." I chose this name because I believe that prosperity has many positive effects on people.

That was going to be the location where I ended up. Whatever it is that's happening right now, it won't amount to anything in the end because it will just fizzle out. This day will make me giggle when I think about it in the future.

And because a lot of people are of the opinion that "women are not chiefs," it has stirred up a lot of controversy. "Who bestowed upon you the title of chieftain?" " Who is the Chief of what?" And I'm thinking to myself, "You don't comprehend, you have no idea what's going on. " Because if you knew what this chief had, you wouldn't be saying what you're saying now.

Onward and upward!

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One thing that I am aware of is the possibility that the circumstances of our lives have not improved, but that we have become more capable of coping with them. I believe that we are progressing, that we are becoming more adept at life and gaining a deeper comprehension of it.

Being a woman has presented me with some challenges, but I've learned to turn those challenges into opportunities for myself. Because I've demonstrated an interest in undertaking tasks that people typically do not associate with women, such as operating a camera and editing videos, they believe that I am not a typical female. When we were requested to pay in the neighborhood I was describing, first of all, they did not talk to me when they asked us for payment. They were having conversations with my pals who are boys because, according to them, we need to confront our fellow men. They didn't know who she was until my buddies told them, "See our madam o." The word "bias" is not one that I would like to use. When others fail to recognize my capabilities, it is up upon me to demonstrate my worth.

When I consider my life as it is right now, with all the twists and turns it has already taken, nothing else could possibly surprise me. So long as the thing in question is genuine. Therefore, it's possible that I may have been a tech sister. You shouldn't be surprised if you find out that Vera has become a tech sister and is now actively coding at some point in the future.