We Interview: Chiamaka Obuekewe, The Social Prefect
From the day I ran into Chiamaka on Instagram, I pretty much figured that I'll like to interview her! There are probably only very few people that are as passionate as she is about local tourism in Nigeria, and she's doing everything within her power to make it work! And yes it's working. So many people around me have at one point or the other been on a Social Prefect Tour.
Much more than anything, I'm amazed by her enthusiasm and how much she's attained in such a short while. From the first tour in July 2015 with 8 people, to regular tours that are regularly sold out!
I speak to her about travel, business, marriage, and all the fun stuff in between. You definitely want to see answers, so enjoy!
How did you decide on the name "Social Prefect"
- Social Prefect was a nickname given to me by my colleagues. They often said I was too social; I knew everyone and I knew everywhere - so I should become the Social Prefect of the office. When I wanted to start my blog, the name stuck, and I decided to use it, rather than my real name. Now it has evolved to a brand!
What's your favourite travel movie?
- It's not really a travel movie, but it's a movie about a place I'll like to travel to and that's 'Sound of Music'. I'll love to travel to Salzburg Austria, where the movie was shot.
Favourite holiday time of the year and why?
- December. I love Christmas so much!
How did you start? Where was the first tour & How many people did you have?
- It all started from my blog www.socialprefect.net, where I was busy sharing my travel experiences. People became interested in the tours, which led me to organizing them and here we are today. Our first open group tour was to Lekki conversation center in July 2015 and there were 8 people in attendance.
What would you be doing if you weren't a tour guide?
- I'll be working in an International organization or have another type of business.
What are the Challenges of operating a small business in Nigeria? And particularly a travel business?
- There are so many challenges. Firstly, the poor state of electricity and high cost and unreliability of internet services in Nigeria is quite annoying. Then for a travel business, logistics is not easy at all and also getting people to register on time for the tours is a big headache. This usually affects planning. Nigerians need to stop being last minute people.
Your biggest cheerleader?
- Cheerleaders - my family and my boyfriend.
Ideal Honeymoon destination?
- Maldives or Bora Bora and in Nigeria, IITA Ibadan and Yankari Games Reserve, Bauchi.
You have photos/ videos of you on Instagram Swimming, riding a bike, dancing so well and even playing basketball. What one thing do you wish you can do?
- I really wish I could sing well
You're so sanguine and come off as such a happy person! What's likely to make you upset?
- Quite a number of things. Because as much as I'm a happy person, I'm very human. Top 2 things - rudeness and bad customer service, which is quite common in Nigeria.
If one actress has to play you in a movie, who will you like to take this role?
- Kate Henshaw, because she's so energetic.
Your go-to Outfit and HairStyle
- The Kimono, camisole and jeans combo. Braids.
Suya, PuffPuff or CupCakes?
- Puff Puff
4 items currently on your wishlist?
- Money, money, money and money!
What do Nigerian citizens need to do to boost our tourism industry?
- Citizens need to look inwards. Most travel enthusiasts are always travelling abroad and promoting other countries, which is totally fine to be honest, because, those countries are more developed and pay more attention to tourism. But charity, they say begins at home. Nigerians need to realize that our country has beautiful sites and we need to show the world.
And the Nigerian government?
- The government has a lot to work on. Firstly, our roads; fixing major roads and creating new ones to enable easy access to different states. Then regarding the tourist attractions themselves, the government needs to develop these places. The truth is, many of these sites are not developed and are not easily accessible, some are even dangerous, as there are no stairs or cleared paths to get to the main attraction. This needs to be seriously worked on to ensure safety. Once these two things (good roads and development of the tourist sites) have been achieved, then they can work on good marketing, with the help of influencers, travel bloggers and tour guides to bring visitors and tourists in.
Do you think there's room for more travel / tour guides in Nigeria. What should they have in their starter pack to be successful?
- Yes definitely, there should be more. The first thing is knowledge of tourist destinations, followed by good people management skills then good planning, logistics and coordinating skills and of course creativity.
If you had your way, what will be in the gift pack for every person who attends an SP Tour?
- The gift pack itself will be a customized Social prefect back pack or bag with customized selfie sticks, power banks, note pads, sunglasses, face caps/snap backs, face towel and any other beautiful, tangible and memorable gift item to make our participants remember Social Prefect Tours.
One celebrity you'll love to go an SP tour
- Lol! I don't want anyone to come and form on my tours biko. But, I'll pick Richard Quest, so he can put it on CNN business traveler, haha.
On a tour with SP, what should we expect!??
- Lots of fun, connecting with amazing people, knowledge of tourist sites, some serious adventure and an all round unforgettable experience. Our participants always leave happy and wanting more.
What's the ultimate vision for SP Tours? Will you always want to go on your own tours?
- To be the number one tour operating brand in Nigeria. No, I'll definitely not be able to go on all the tours in the nearest future. We are working on some collaborations and I will definitely need some hardworking, enthusiastic and passionate tour guides to lead our tours, because we will have many!
3 Greatest achievements so far since starting your own business?
- So many amazing things, I can't even list three. The journey has been so rewarding, far beyond my expectations. Honestly, I did not know what to expect from starting this brand, but I have been pleasantly surprised by God.
The one place in (i) Nigeria (ii) Africa and (ii) the world that you're itching to go?
- (i) Mambilla Plateau, Taraba (ii) Kenya (iii) Almost all countries in Europe
Like me, your Bae is from a different Nigerian Ethnic group. What part of his culture have you come to love?
- Hahaha, he's from Akwa-ibom, so of course the food. Their soups are delicious.
What one thing are you looking forward to in Marriage?
- Hmmm, everything actually. I'm looking forward to the growing old together and staying with each other forever, through thick and thin, no matter what comes our way, by God's grace.
For you, what are the three most important things on the wedding day?
- My husband, the food, the entertainment.
Wedding Dress - Mermaid or Ball Gown?
- Hmm tough one, maybe ball gown.
Thoughts on Women Keeping their Last Name after Marriage?
- Dear Women, aren't you happy to get married to him?, then change your surname.
You quit your job to go into this full time. An advice for those thinking of quitting their jobs to follow their passion?
- Go for it, especially if the job takes all your time, does not pay you well and you see no future career prospects in that field. Life is too short to be unfulfilled and sad. You may need to save some money first before quitting, so also plan well before leaving!
Best advice you've ever received?
- Keep going; Don't give up!
It's just right that I end the interview with that advice! I think it's a sound one. I absolutely enjoyed the interview, and as usual I'm so inspired by Chiamaka! I hope you enjoyed it.
Have you been on any SP tours? If you haven't, I'm not sure why but you may be in luck because there are two upcoming tours in October! A one day beach cruise on the 3rd to Tarkwa Bay Lagos, and 2 day adventure to the Erin Ijesha WaterFall and two other tourist sites in Osun State.
Judging from all the reviews I've seen, you def want to be there. I'm so looking forward to being in Nigeria again, and adding a few places to my tourist hat - other than Olumo Rock and La'Campagne Beach Resort!
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