How famous TikToker, Yinka Owate japa-ed to the UK and got her groove back

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
Yinka Owate has since become one of the many poster children of the Japa movement, inundated with requests by followers…
How this famous TikToker Yinka Owate japa-ed to the UK, and got her groove back

Yinka Owate had begun to take more time off social media. TikTok, where she had over 250,000 followers didn’t feel like what it used to be.

At the peak of it, when she was still enveloped by the influencer exuberance, pumping out content on a steady, she collaborated with the top influencers whilst balancing a full-time job, managing Pulse, the African news website’s TikTok account with over 1.4 million followers.

Occasionally she attended events and interview some of the biggest names in the Nigerian entertainment industry, including one time Don Jazzy. But of late, engagement on her page just hadn’t been how it used to be. And her clients had been MIA.

Then she posted what she described as her” countdown video,” clips from key moments — when she got her visa; when she arrived at the airport — in the run-up to her relocating to the UK, where she had been offered a position in the Masters in Multimedia Journalism programs at the University of Kent. Hours later her engagement shut up.


Can’t wait to unleash my prowess at my @universityofkent 😊🥰🥰 #yinxybelle #japa #kent #uni #universityofkent #tiktokuni

♬ Celebrate the Good Times – Mason

The video has now been watched 328 thousand times.

“That video actually blew up, compared to all the previous number of views I’ve been having, people yelling about ‘oh my god you’re in the UK,'” she told me.

Yinka Owate has since become one of the many poster children of the Japa movement, inundated with requests by followers on how she secured her admission. How she paid her school fees. If she could help them with their own application.

“People are like ‘can you help me apply?’ blah blah blah,” she said.

The Japa movement

As the naira continues to fall against the dollar and the economy remains in a steady downward spiral, Yinka Owate was plunged into the world of the Japa influencers.

The Japa influencers are a coterie of young Nigerians who have relocated to the US or the UK or Canada or somewhere in the European Union, who assume the role of a preacher on social media, telling people how they too can relocate, while blogging about their new lives.

According to BusinessDay, UK student visas to Nigeria increased by 222.8% to 65,929 in June 2022 from 20,427 in the same period of 2021.

While Yinka Owate’s dance videos struggle with engagement, videos of her new life have found mass appeal with her followers.

The video of her dormitory mates eating porridge beans has been watched over 100 thousand times. The video comparing education in the UK to Nigeria has been watched more than 30 thousand times.

“It has increased my followers,” she said of the Japa content she posts. “My followers were actually reducing before I left Nigeria and I was worried. But I was like ‘let me just focus on my other goals.'” she said.

Read also: The making of Alice Marve, the latest TikTok prankster on the block

Her move to the UK was premeditated.

As an undergraduate, she had first considered pursuing her master’s program abroad at the behest of her final-year thesis supervisor. But her career came along and she decided to give the University of Lagos a chance. It wasn’t for her, she quickly realised.

“They didn’t have the type of programs that she was looking for,” she said. Plus the ASUU strike was always looming around.

“They don’t even have enough courses, a diverse range of courses. I didn’t see anything like multimedia journalism or digital media in all those Nigerian universities.” And so she decided to go abroad. “What’s the point of doing it in Nigeria?” she asked.

Yinka Owate on building a new career in the UK

Her career, she said, is already up to a great start. Just barely a month in the UK, she has churned out over 30 plus content on TikTok and has started looking for a more stable job, thanks to her work and study visa.

“I think it’s going to be very comfortable because I have a wide range of experiences,” she said of her career in the UK. “I have discussed with career advisors at my school and they assure me that I can get jobs with my experience. I have even applied to one company and they told me that I’m too qualified,” she added.

Yinka Owate chose the multimedia journalism program because it was a form of what she was doing in Nigeria, and she wanted to learn more.

By the time she left, she had been working at Okay Africa, the pan-African media company as a multimedia journalist. As she said “practise it in big media companies across the world. I want to have more opportunities all over the globe, not just within my country.”

For her, her Japa is permanent. The only reason she will step her feet in Nigeria is if any of her brothers (she has two of them here in Nigeria) is getting married and he decides to have his wedding in Nigeria “or maybe just to visit my parent,” she said.

On soaking up the moment

For now, Yinka Owate wants to ride the wave and this new engagement, with a return back to a full-time influencer career. “Now, I’ll take it really seriously, do new things, create innovative videos and all,” she said.

What is life for her in the UK like? “So far, I am enjoying it,” she said.

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