Laughter was the medicine of choice this year, and these African creators did their part in healing the masses.
TikTok, the video and music sharing social media app taking over the lives of those young and old, has been this year's ultimate tool for connecting with the global communities. The app was initially released in 2016 but gained major popularity in 2019. With the rise in popularity came scrutiny, as creators of color and those not from Western countries found that their content and voices were being silenced, blackballed, and often times removed for no reason at all. More often than not, the popular dances, trends, and sounds came from the minds of the TikTok population who were then given little to no credit or attention for their creativity. And a year and a half after TikTok's formal apology to the Black creators on their app, not much has changed.
Twenty twenty-one, however, saw African and Black TikTok creators take the app to greater measures than ever seen before. Senegalese-Italian creator, Khabane "Khaby" Lame is currently the most followed TikTok creator, sitting at a cool 123.3 million followers. The creator's one-of-a-kind videos, where he silently mocks the magnificently-silly things we humans do to ourselves, range between 7M and 297M views and have the star averaging 1.9 billion likes across his account. Nigerian-American creator and designer Uyi Omorogbe currently sits at 3.4 million followers as his Annoying My African Parents series remains popular and relevant to young Africans around the world. Self-proclaimed International Slay Mama Beverly Adaeze's skits throw us in stitches as her characters force us to recollect the mental strength it takes to handle an African woman, as the Nigerian-American beauty mixes fashion, comedy, and beauty on her platform. While South African crooner Lloyiso uses his magnetic voice to bring South African R&B to the world.
Here's our list of the most popular African TikTok creators!
Khaby Lame (@khaby.lame)
Could be the new Khaby ?🤣🤣 👩🏿🦱 🤲🏾 Potrebbe essere il nuovo Khaby? #learnfromkhaby #imparacontiktok #stitch
Perhaps the best come-up story of this year, Senegalese creator Khaby Lame went from being unemployed and having to move back home in March 2020 to boasting 123.3 million (and counting) followers from every corner of the globe. The creator gained popularity when he started making fun of the ridiculous "hack" video trends, where creators take relatively simple tasks and create absurd new ways to use the same products. The millions of fans backing and laughing along with the Italian-based comedian have never heard him speak but exalt with every new upload. Khaby is the most followed TikTok creator to date and boasts channel features from stars like UK singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Swedish soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic and so many more star-studded guest appearances.
Beverly Adaeze (@beverlyadaeze)
When you ask your African braider to try a new style #fyp #foryourpage
Nigerian-American content creator Beverly Adaeze is the "International Slay Mama" of our dreams, with each new skit marking the comedian as a favorite among the continent and diaspora. Adaeze shares a lot of herself on her social media channels, further positioning her as a trustworthy, funny friend internet friend to her thousands of followers. Her African mom skits hit super close to home, as Beverly's sharp, comedic tongue keeps her among our favorite African creators.
Lloyiso Giyana (@Lloyiso)
#duet with @justinmooremusic did a bit too much there😍
Simply put, South African singer and songwriter Lloyiso stole hearts with each and every upload. The Eastern Cape-born singer went viral last year after posting a video of him performing his single Madoda Sabelani in response to South Africa's ever-present Gender-based violence epidemic. Since the success of his single, Giyana has worked with Disney Africa, signed with Universal Music Group South Africa locally, while Republic records takes care of his global presence. We spoke with the 22-year-old soulful singer on his plans to take South African R&B to the world, and how he finds more of himself in his music as the years go on. While there's no word of when Lloyiso's debut album will bless the global music charts, the covers he regularly uploads to his TikTok page should keep us satisfied until then.
Uyi Omorogbe (@youngyosa)
Y'all remember this ? 😂💀 #africanparents #fyp #viral
Nigerian-American TikToker Uyi Omorogbe's "Pissing off my African Parents" is a series that has gripped the masses, as we watch the creator push his very African parents to their limits.
Earlier this year, we spoke with the 23-year-old social media star and designer to discussed his brand and homegrown clothing label NASO. Omorogbe created his TikTok account to bring brand awareness and support towards his clothing brand, but his online persona has taken centre stage as Uyi's content continues to reach and entertain millions from around the world. Uyi boasts over 4 million followers from all over the world and his Nigerian friends and family from back home supporting the Brooklyn-based star.
Nimco Happy (@nimcoshappy)
Twenty twenty-one, was the year that we witnessed Somali singer Nimco Happy finally receive the recognition she deserves. The singer's hit single Isii Nafta (Love You More Than My Life) was already incredibly popular in her home country, but went internationally viral earlier this year on the video-sharing app. Famous fans — including Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid, American rappers Cardi B, Aminé, as well as South African comedian Trevor Noah — posted themselves dancing along to Happy's newly re-released single, and certainly helped take the single to great lengths, as it was used in over 250,000 videos and shared between millions. The song has now been made available to stream on Spotify, Apple and YouTube Music.
Unice Wani (@UniceWani)
Guys we literally just hit 90M views 😭😭🙏🏾yes this is a draft 😂 (@Tracy Joseph
Ugandan-Australian Unice Wani captured our attention after the 19-year-old model posted a video of her rendition of the popular and now globally recognized hit single Love Nwantiti by Nigerian singer and producer Ckay. The hit song received credits from producers and DJs from across the globe, before being rightfully placed on the Nigerian singer's shoulders for people like Perth-based Wani to find. Unice gained popularity on the app for dancing and lip-synching along to popular TikTok trends and has amassed over 600,000 followers in one year as a result of her talent, beauty and magnetic energy felt in her videos. The model uses her platform to bring awareness to the colorism and sometimes online abuse she faces for being a dark-skinned, Black woman on the internet. In an interview with Breakinglast.news, Wani said, “You tend to get a lot of "shadowbans" for saying things like racism… I guess they pay more attention to white girls’ dances and the like.” Nevertheless, Unice continues to reign supreme as the beauty continues to upload videos of her Black girl joy, and inspiring others while doing it.
Ckay - Love Nwantiti
After finally being given the recognition for this track, Ckay's Love Nwantiti is arguably TikTok's song of the year, as there was a point where you couldn't open the app without it being the first sound to greet you.
Amaraae - SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY
Similar to that of Ckay's story, Ghanaian singer-songwriter Amaraae had to fight to gain recognition for her smash hit SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY as the song took off across the global video-sharing app this year. The single, and its many remixes, has been used in over 10 million TikTok videos and has a strong position on the Billboard Hot 100 list, a first for the buzzing artist.
Kvng Vinci - Squid Game (Amapiano Remix)
Nigerian producer, composer, and sound engineer Kvng Vinci's hot amapiano remix of Netflix's Squid Game's theme song is exactly what the people needed. Countless videos have been shared of people dancing along to the track and this song, for some, is their first introduction to the monster genre that is South African amapiano, so for that, we thank Vinci for his service.