In Kenya, digital video-sharing aka ‘YouTubing’ or vlogging has become one of the most popular social and business ventures, writes Alfayo Onyango
Out with the old, in with the new. The digital revolution has made its presence felt and we can only embrace it. No longer do we have to go queuing at the local DVD shop to get the latest movie or TV series, nor do we have to wait for our most favourite series to stop holding us by the balls to give us new episodes.
We are now in the ‘Content on Demand’ era where people watch what they want at whatever time they desire, as long as Netflix or YouTube is within reach.
YouTube could easily be tipped as the new solution to Kenya’s TV broadcast programming that seems to have stagnated even with more channels coming into the play. You may think there are enough gratifying local programmes to keep you logged in, but Kenyan YouTube begs to differ.
A number of creative Kenyan content creators occupying the YouTube digital space with videos of comedy, short films, vlogs (blogs in video format), food, travel, healthcare and welfare, among others, are here giving alternatives and we find some definitive ones changing narratives and lives.
“It was in 2017 when we started the YouTube channel East Meets West. Unfortunately, I had dropped out of university because of financial constraints and I was distraught and depressed. Because of the idleness at the time, I would watch so many YouTubers and I decided to do what they were doing.
Through God’s grace I was inspired to get the name East Meets West, a narration of elevation from the phrase ‘Eastlands’ where I come from. Eastlands is heavily stereotyped with poverty, as compared to the Westside, which is perceived to be more privileged. But it’s just an elevation of mind, body and spirit kind of thing,’’ Bobby Junior, creator of East Meets West channel tells Spice.
YouTube has played a major role in exposing talent to the public and an easy example is the freshest and most-in-demand East Meets West crew. Consisting of Bobby, Sasha, Laura, Dominique, Sami, Ray and Stanozax, they are the latest crew to become new age celebrities.
Their videos are hilarious where a wide array of topics are satirically discussed is a grey area they tapped into. Hard work never goes unnoticed and endorsement deals with companies such as Samsung and Big Square started to kick in.
The idea to start the channel was just to share information and topics that people below the age of 25 could relate to. The crew has worked together despite background and character diversity. They go beyond their channel’s work and they are all Kalasha Film Award winners in 2017 and 2018.
“I honestly have not gone as rapid as I thought. Whenever you put up a video, you have worked on it and dedicated time to it and you have expectations.
So, you think you have done your best and it doesn’t catch a certain fire. Also realising that you cannot appeal to everybody is something I had to come to terms with, but I’ve taken it well and I’m working on more dope content,” says Charity Mwathi, ChacheetaKe channel owner.
It’s always great to learn that despite the millions of views these creators gain, they are also just as human. With as polished, educative and spirit-awakening content such as Chacheeta’s, one would easily believe the content curators do not go through a single bad moment in life. Most happen to be in luxurious or high-end areas looking flamboyant, but Chacheeta tries to give the real documentation of events.
A year-and-a-half into vlogging, Mwathi became a millennial mum, but that did not stop her vlogging. She makes content around her experiences and this only gives her more leverage in a space everyone is trying to depict a life with no struggles.
Her vlog about her pregnancy exceeds expectations and it’s great to see the actuality manifest in her art. Such authenticity and her Nyegenyege Festival video was one for her audience to watch with their mouths agape. She took them through battling the gooey mud baths and delving into the deep green forest around River Nile, making the content captivating and enthralling.
“My biggest supporters are my parents and my close friends. They really have my back when it comes to everything,” says vlogger Foi Wambui.
The multi-talented radio presenter and actress is one of the acts to watch out for in the future. Her audience-engagement skills on platforms such as Instagram helps direct her followers to her YouTube channel whenever she readies a new video.
In her early 20s, she has already partnered with international brands such as Coke
Studio Africa and BBC to create content that educates, informs or entertains the youth.
“I had a blog first where I used to write and post my own articles, then I decided to do videos as well. It started out as a hobby. I get ideas from everyday activities, then I pick a day during the week to record and edit the content,” Foi tells Spice.
YouTube content creation is fast becoming a trend with a lot of people trying to be relevant or visible. Young and old people alike have discovered there is a monetisation mechanism to it and have decided to get into the fray for profits.
YouTube is offering a convenient element television wouldn’t in freedom of expression, diverse content generation and availability. That’s why you would easily find someone watching a YouTube video either on their mobile phones in traffic or even at work, or just our folks entirely ditching TV because they have phones connected to WiFi or data bundles.