Interview
Courtesy of Sibu Mpanza.

INFLUENCED: Meet Sibu Mpanza—the YouTuber Who's Making a Killing from Just Having Fun

'I am the person I needed when and even before I started my YouTube channel,' the prolific YouTuber says.

OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

Years ago, Sibu Mpanza found himself experiencing two realities Black South African students are still battling with even today: crippling financial woes at university and debilitating depression.

An aspiring musician who ended up studying psychology instead at the University of Cape Town, Mpanza began skipping as many classes as he possibly could. He would spend copious amounts of time at a computer hidden away in the corner, passing the hours watching funny videos on YouTube. In fact, he says he spent so much time on YouTube that he was literally one of the very first people to view Beyoncé's epic "711" music video—something Mpanza recalls in stitches.

He was searching for something, although admittedly, he didn't quite know back then what it was exactly. It eventually got so bad that in his second year of university, he packed up his things, dropped out and moved to Johannesburg to see if he could become what he'd always imagined he could eventually be.

Fast-forward to 2019, and the name Sibu Mpanza is not only an undeniable success story but an entire brand.

Mpanza is a full-time YouTuber who has been able to capitalise on creating hilarious content about his life and pretty much anything that interests him. While he initially "blew up" because of a YouTube video he put out, a video which called out White students at the University of the Free State who were recorded beating up protesting Black students at a rugby game, he's since moved onto a second channel, More Mpanza, where he makes content that's a lot more fun, apolitical and doesn't take a toll on his mental health. As if two successful channels weren't enough, he's also got a third channel, Arcade, where he and his business partner talk about things they enjoy in the technology space.

For anyone looking to just let off some steam, watch a YouTuber who's willing to poke fun at himself or find some really quality content in an era where everyone seems to have a YouTube channel about something or the other, Mpanza is definitely your guy.

We caught up with him to talk about what inspired his various YouTube channels, the fame that comes with being a household name and what's really important to the young South African creative.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Interview
Courtesy of Babalwa Mtshawu.

INFLUENCED: Meet Babalwa Mtshawu—The YouTuber Unapologetically Sharing Her Intersex Journey With the World

'I grew up thinking that my story was insignificant and that no one wanted to hear it,' says Babalwa Mtshawu.

OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

When she's not sharing her personal experiences in the hopes of educating her 3000 YouTube subscribers, you can find Babalwa Mtshawu jetting across the world. From Nairobi, Italy to Nepal, Mtshawu documents every exciting minute of her adventures and mishaps: the good, the bad and the really awkward. On her YouTube channel, she talks about her journey as a female-presenting intersex individual and the challenges she often faces in a society that seems adamant about keeping the intersex community completely invisible.

At other times, we're allowed into the romantic life of Mtshawu and her girlfriend, Thando Hlophe—who is also a YouTuber in her own right—and they talk about what any normal couple talks about online. But for them, there's the added dynamic of having to shield aspects of their lives as they live in a world where queer love is always forced to explain itself.

Mtshawu's content has landed her many gigs she never imagined she'd even be offered. She's taken part in various conversations, panels and even a viral BBC interview, where she's shared her views on gender, the queer community and more. Through this, she's earned a seat at the proverbial "table" that Mtshawu has always wanted, but wasn't sure if she was worthy of.

When she's not in front of the camera, Mtshawu is teaching military geography at the University of Stellenbosch.

We sat down with her to talk about what her YouTube channel means to her, where she sees it going in the next few years and the bigger picture of her work within the LGBTQIA+ community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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popular
Courtesy of Jamil Khan.

INFLUENCED: Meet Jamil Khan—An Unflinching Advocate for Social Justice

This young South African influencer is pushing for people to tackle society's difficult conversations on social media.

OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

In May this year, a Black woman killing time before a job interview, was arrested by Cape Town police for no apparent reason. The video of the incident, posted to social media, caused a national uproar. For Jamil Khan, one of the more disturbing aspects of the case was that the arresting officers were Coloured. A Coloured South African himself, Khan took to Twitter to make his point.

"The fact that the Coloured community by and large is deeply anti-Black is clear for all to see." He tweeted in response to the video, "It is violent and potentially deadly. This allegiance to whiteness is the most mind blowing thing because it benefits us little to none."

His statement got thousands of likes and retweets. Khan went on to say how unsurprised he was as this kind of bigotry had been part and parcel of his own upbringing. He continued: "It is an exhausting reality but one that must be strongly condemned. This is one example of why it is important to understand white supremacy beyond White people."

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Interview
Courtesy of Mashudu Modau

INFLUENCED: Meet Mashudu Modau—the Podcaster that Entrepreneurs Revere

This young South African influencer and his podcast network Lutcha, are changing the entrepreneurship game.

OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

Mashudu Modau was born-and-raised in Soweto and is a young South African influencer who's using social media to help anyone who's interested in becoming an entrepreneur or establishing a start-up. Modau insists on staying in his own corner and simply focusing on the impact that he can have on his fellow South Africans. At just under 11 000 followers on Twitter, that's quite a number of people who're joining him in that same corner.

Modau founded a podcast network called Lutcha, a platform for African podcasters, comprising of five podcasts which speak to entrepreneurship, branding, marketing, mental health and fitness. The host of the MASHSTARTSUP podcast, Modau focuses specifically on entrepreneurs that have excelled and that are still starting out on their entrepreneurial journey as well.

Describing himself as an "eco-driven specialist, youth entrepreneur and part-doctor" he wears a number of titles but his passion and work center on the start-up space. Modau attributes his childhood curiosity to igniting the spark and eventual interest in business and when asked by MarkLives in a recent interview, whether he feels entrepreneurs are born or made, he said, "Entrepreneurs are made. In the fire. Literally. It's a process of constantly and consistently testing, learning, failing and starting over. Over and over again."

We caught up with him to talk about why he does what he does, the key lessons he's learnt from social media and what his bigger picture is.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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