I’m on YouTube in the morning as I have my breakfast, at noon when I’m enjoying my lunch and in the evening for the 20 minutes that I’m doing my bantu knots before bed.
YouTube is a great platform for storytelling and I’ve found it such a delight to see a growth in video content creators from across the continent. About a month and a half ago I posted this on my Facebook:
“We need to be careful about the ‘African narrative’ being told exclusively through a Nigerian lens.”
This sentiment comes from an observation that many of the stories told about and/or on the continent in the media originate or have a clear association with Nigeria. This is not at all a bad thing as there are some incredible and inspiring stories coming from Nigeria and West Africa as a region. It becomes problematic, however, when it is the dominant or only narrative of the entire continent. This hegemony not only speaks to Nigeria’s economic positioning on the continent, but also to a history that through the transatlantic slave trade, allowed West African culture to be exported to the US and subsequently the world. My friend Benja explains it perfectly,
“I think the whole African narrative is very West African driven, and to narrow it further, I’d say it’s very Ghanaian and Nigerian driven. I think it comes from a historical narrative of West Africa being on the map due to slavery and its consequences in modern time. Think about entertainment, clothing and food. Even in sports! How many East African artist or sports persons can you name on a global scale?… The export of African culture into mainstream culture (read Euro-centric) is generally delivered by West Africans, due to circumstances I’d say. The historical narrative has created a contact between West Africa and the ‘global North’ since at least the 15th century, and consequently when we look at the display of African culture in the world, it reconnects right back to West Africa.”
With that said, unsurprisingly, a significant portion of my YouTube #faves are in fact produced in Nigeria! But I’d like to think that my interest in their content is driven more by the resonance of their content rather than their ‘Nigerianness’ per se.
Here are my YouTube #faves, creating from the continent:
Yagazie Emezi – Yagazie’s channel is my most recent subscription and current favourite on the interwebs! She is so funny, so witty and incredibly articulate about a wide range of issues from dating in Lagos to women’s sexuality.
The Fifth Estate– I first came across Mutahi Ngunyi on YouTube when he used the ‘Tyranny of Numbers’ theory to predict that Jubilee would win the 2013 Kenyan election. This year, I found him on a new channel called ‘The Fifth Estate‘ alongside a brilliant group of scholars, where they offer stimulating scenario-based analyses on Kenyan politics.
NdaniTV– I was introduced to NdaniTV a couple of years ago by a friend. NdaniTV is home to a wide variety of themed content. There is content on finances, motorsports, celebrity interviews and a few web-series (Skinny Girl in Transit and Rumour Has It fans, hey!). Recently, they launched a very cool and informative travel show called ‘The New Africa‘, which documents travelling across Africa from a Nigerian perspective. As an aspiring traveller, I find the show very exciting to watch and maybe soon I’ll be inspired enough to actualize some of my travel plans!
Miss Mandi Throwdown– Miss Mandi started off on YouTube doing a show for another channel but this year she launched her own channel and it’s been nothing short of amazing. I don’t enjoy cooking but still find her videos entertaining and informative to watch. She’s found a way to diversify her content while remaining true to a culinary theme. Dope.
Nancie Mwai: Nancie was the pioneer of fashion blogging in Kenya and has the best resting-bitch-face I’ve ever seen. Her style is impeccable. I love that she’s developed great editing skills for YouTube. She’s not consistent but has some really cool videos when she is.
Muthoni Muchiri: Muthoni not only has a great range of lifestyle videos but she’s also got excellent editing skills! I love her authenticity and especially enjoy her foodie videos that showcase a little of Nairobi’s restaurant scene. Cool-ness.
Toke Makinwa: I had noticed Toke on YouTube for a while before finally getting around to watching her videos. Toke gives me cool Auntie vibes through and through! She feels like the kind of girlfriend you’d speak to until the wee hours of the morning. I enjoy her videos a lot.
Capital FM TV: Capital FM TV is one of the only digital media platforms in Kenya making a notable effort to highlight Nairobi’s buzzing arts and culture scene and I commend them for it!
Centonomy– I think a lot of local brands could learn from what Centonomy is doing using YouTube to create an understanding and appreciation for their brand.
With Facebook and Twitter embedding video on their platforms, I’m quite interested to understand how YouTube is staying competitive. Anyway, I’ve enjoyed compiling this list, please do recommend any YouTubers from across the continent for me to indulge in! Thank you, let me know your thoughts below.
Disclaimer- I started off this #faves post with the idea of sharing ‘African YouTubers’ but realised as I came to the end of the list that it’s more of a Kenyan and Nigerian list of YouTubers! Unintentional, of course. But I do think it affirms the issue I raised earlier in this article on dominant narratives. Do I not look widely enough on YouTube? Or are there truly a limited range of ‘African’ narratives on YouTube? This leads us to other offshoot questions such as what ‘African’ content really means, especially in a globalized world and what can be done to introduce a wider range of ‘African’ perspectives on major platforms such as YouTube that go beyond politics.
© Tessy Maritim