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10 South African YouTubers You Need To Be Watching

These are the top 10 South African YouTubers around right now.

South Africa's video blogging scene is steadily growing as a lot of opinionated young people are taking advantage of the tools and platforms at their disposal to tell their own stories, express themselves, or just make their fans laugh.


While a large number of vloggers opt to share their videos on Facebook because of ease of access, their YouTube numbers are impressive too.

From the hilarious Fash Ngobese, to the unrelenting Sibu Mpanza, the quirky Pap Culture, and the humorous Mark Futzgibbon, among others, we bring you 10 South African vloggers worth checking out as you procrastinate to study or abuse your office Wi-Fi connection on.

Check them out below, listed in no particular order.

1. Fash Ngobese aka Yes Fash

www.youtube.com

Yes Fash's videos are mostly about how different types of people (race, gender, class) react to various scenarios. Fash's videos are humorous in that they are a tongue-in-cheek take on situations we all find ourselves in. And his ability to play different characters in one clip—think of Eddie Murphy or Tyler Perry—is so seamless, you forget it's just one person on the video.

Follow Fash Ngobese on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

2. Siyabulela Deli aka TaFire

TaFire is also great at impersonating different kinds of South Africans. One of his funniest videos is one in which he role plays how black, coloured and white Afrikaaner people would react if approached to taste a new burger from Burger King. His impersonations are hilarious and he's able to switch between the different accents seamlessly. TaFire's clips, which mostly go viral on Facebook, landed him a TV role on the soapies, Isibaya, last year.

Follow TaFire on Twitter, Facebook and and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

3. Pap Culture

Pap Culture is run by three vloggers, Nwabisa Mda, Thembe Mahlaba and Bongeka Masango. The trio tackle serious issues, such as rape culture, race, gender, hair, money and all kinds of isms, in a light-hearted but engaging way. Their videos are categorized into talks, challenges and their infamous dashboard cam. On their recent series, called #BehindTheseWalls, they ask personal questions to different celebrities of their choice. Pap Culture have hosted the likes of Kwesta, Lady Skollie, Anne Hirsch, and many other different personalities.

Follow Pap Culture on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

4. Sibu Mpanza

Sibu Mpanza is edgy and clever just like Pap Culture. His videos also tackle heavy topics, but with subtle humor, sarcasm, and sometimes using anecdotes to approach a topic. He comments on current issues ranging from politics, race, gender, and sexual violence, among others. Sibu is also a serial collaborator, having made videos with Microwave Boyz, Broke Niggaz, Okay Wasabi and Pap Culture, among others.

Follow Sibu Mpanza on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

5. Mark Fitzgibbon

Mark Fitzgibbon's vlogs poke fun at being young coloured, specifically Cape Coloured. He covers themes such as relationships, pop culture, and social issues in a light-hearted manner. He's made videos about not having abs, not having a winter bae, being harassed on a train, but one theme he keeps returning to is the "tief"–Cape Coloured slang for "bitch." A hilarious blogger, but not for the faint-hearted. You've been warned.

Follow Mark Fitzgibbon on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

6. Broke Niggaz

Broke Niggaz is a web reality series founded by vlogger Menzi Anarchadium. Him and his friends discuss issues that have to do with being young, black and, well, broke. Their videos are quirky, funny, and sadly relatable, as they touch on issues like struggling with adulating and the hypocrisy of the internet, among other issues that a young black man who's either a student or a young professional struggles with.

Follow Anarchadium on Twitter, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

7. The Microwave Boys

The Microwave Boys are a trio of friends who host a show in which they give their take on current issues, from Migos and Joe Budden's "beef" to Grace Mugabe's shenanigans, and everything in between. If watching three energetic and highly-opinionated dudes dissect current affairs and pop culture while laughing hysterically is your thing, then The Microwave Boys are here for you.

Follow The Microwave Boys on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to Anarchadium's YouTube channel for their videos.

8. Lasizwe Dambuza

Lasizwe Dambuza makes videos of different scenarios such as how a black girl reacts to being spanked during sex, how black students get baffled by Afrikaans exams, how black parents respond to their kids coming out. But his most popular videos is a parody of media personality Bonang Matheba's reality show "Being Bonang," in which Lasizwe imagines Queen B's reaction to allegations against boyfriend AKA cheating on her. Lasizwe is a shape shifter who can emulate all kinds of people.

Follow Lasizwe Dambuza on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

9. Theodora Lee

Theodora Lee's vlogs are halfway between light-hearted and serious. Using her life experiences as an entry point, she reflects and give tips on issues such as mental illness, dating, beauty and health. If you would like to get into the head of a young South African trying to make sense of the world around her, while getting your funny bone tickled, Theo is your girl.

Follow Theodora Lee on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to her YouTube channel.

10. Okay Wasabi

Okay Wasabi, who's also a rapper, makes parodies of hip-hop songs, an art that isn't that big in South Africa. His parody of DJ Citi Lyts' hit single " Vura," is called "Dudla," and revolves around being overweight. He has made parodies of hip-hop hits such as Anatii and AKA's "The Saga," Emtee's "Roll Up," and a few more. But Wasabi's videos go beyond hip-hop parodies. He also does some comedy skits, and his latest series is called 'Kota Past 9," in which he and his friend Daliii taste kotas from different neighborhoods.

Follow Okay Wasabi on Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

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Photo courtesy of Sam Soko.

Interview: Sam Soko is the Kenyan Director Behind Sundance Hit, 'Softie'

We meet filmmaker Sam Soko who has made a stirring documentary about the Kenyan protest leader Boniface Mwangi

Filmmaker Sam Soko didn't intend on making a documentary about Kenyan photojournalist-turned-politician Boniface Mwangi.

The original idea he had was to make a manual of sorts, a short video guide, on how to protest, the do's and don't's. Soko, himself an activist artist who cut his teeth convincing friends to let him create political music videos for their apolitical songs, knew Mwangi's experience on the streets both photographing protests and staging them meant he had a lot to share with others.

But then came the blood. A thousand litres of it, to be precise. And the pigs. Dozens of them, with words like MPigs written on them. Like the graphic photos Mwangi had become known for taking—it was a sight you couldn't look away from. It was a protest Mwangi organized, in 2013, to decry corrupt members of the Kenyan parliament who had decided to increase their salaries, 2 months after taking office. And at his side, through the thick red liquid of it all, was Mwangi's wife, Njere, ready to be arrested with him.

"Once I was witness to his relationship, I started seeing him as a family man," Soko tells OkayAfrica. "Because he's planning a protest and all, but when you look at the footage, you start seeing the kids and you start seeing Njere. That's when it started hitting me, in the sense, that she was with him in such a crazy space."

Soko formed a creative and activist hub, called PAWA 254, with Mwangi, as they became part of the groundswell demanding democratic reforms in a country still left scarred from the division sewed between Kikuyu and Luo people by British colonizers. "We had a new Constitution at the time, and there was this hope that we finally could picket without being tear-gassed or being beaten, Like, our civil liberties could be held up." Instead, the government strengthened its police force into a notorious organization condemned by human rights activists. "That's very salient in the film," says Soko. "If you see how the police dress, for instance, at the beginning, it's very different; they become more militant towards the end."

Soko's debut feature-length documentary, Softie, which became the first Kenyan film to ever premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, earlier this year, is at once a love story between Mwangi and his wife and their three children, but also between Mwangi and his beloved Kenya, under president Uhuru Kenyatta. Central to the film is the tussle between how these different loves bump up against each other: what comes first — love of country or love of family?

We spoke to the Nairobi-based director about making the film, which opens in virtual cinemas, starting this Friday, September 18th.

Boniface Mwangi with his wife Photo courtesy of Sam Soko


OA: Early on in the film, we learn how steadfast Boniface Mwangi is — he talks about being willing to die for the ideals he believes in, which made me think of Nelson Mandela and his Rivonia Treason Trial speech. Boniface is someone in the present day who still shares this belief?

When we were working on the edit, and kind of crafting and thinking about what the story was going to be, something that we found that was really, really interesting is, with a lot of the stories, like the story of Nelson Mandela, you'd never see the other side. That's something we see later, up ahead, as a retrospective. We'd hear about Martin Luther King and then we'd read about Coretta Scott in, I think, 1990, like, 'Oh, this his was her struggle.' That sort of thing. But for me, Boniface and Njere represented a present day reality struggle that showcases what Mandela was going through, what Martin Luther was going through. That was kind of like unravelling the curtain; when you see Martin Luther marching, Coretta's at home, trying to help their kids do their homework. And this is the reality.

OA: And the film poses that question of love for your country versus love for your family, and which one should come first?

Exactly. They see it in different ways. Boniface sees it that if you improve the country, you improve the lives of those who you love. Njere's like, you have to have your family's back first. And that means everything else comes second. And she's right; she's not wrong. And he's not wrong.

OA: The film really is privy to some really private moments in Mwangi's life — how did you gain his trust?

When we started filming the short video, he was really involved with the protests, and we started doing the protests with him. So we were—quote, unquote—in the trenches with him in the protests, and somehow that's how he kind of welcomed us to his home. When you've been with someone in the streets, and you're tear-gassed together more than once, you already have a common bond. But then I started developing a relationship with him that was beyond the streets. Just checking up on him and asking, what's going on, what's taking place? That sort of thing. I think it took a while. And I think even from Njere, we kind of developed a kind of camaraderie that was separate from my relationship with Boniface, because I would actually be like, 'Hey, he said that, how does that make you feel?' And not necessarily on camera. But over time, he kind of accepted us to be there with a camera. At some point, I kind of felt like they were talking to me, and not necessarily the camera; like, the camera is kind of this thing that's there, but not there. That kind of trust, again, was built on a respect that I have for them and their values and what they're doing. I think that's something they saw. It made them trust me with their story and trust me with their family.

You're the director of the film, but you're also producer, writer and cinematographer. Did Boniface's own style as a photojournalist influence you in any way?

The film has three cinematographers, and a lot of my cinematography is within the intimate moments, because that's when they would only engage with someone they trust. But him being a photographer actually, to a point, made the work a bit hard because he's constantly looking at how you're doing it. He's in your face about the angle. He's like, 'Hey, why are you standing there, you should be there.' But in some places he did help 'cause he's been filming in the streets and filming protests for a very long time. So when you're there filming, he'll easily tell you, 'Dude, don't stand there. They're about to start tear-gassing. Go to the other side.' And it's weird, when you're on the other side and you're filming, and all of a sudden you see tear gas, you wonder, 'How the hell did he know?' You do that 234 times and you start knowing yourself, 'Oh, this is how,' and he was really helpful in that sense.

I can imagine that filming during the protests must have been one of the big challenges of making this film but what else did you struggle with? There were death threats for Mwangi, did that happen to you as well?

It's so funny, when you're filming and when you're in the protests, it's adrenaline talking. So you're not really thinking about whether you're going to be okay. This one time, I got arrested because the cop said I was a spy for the protesters. [We had everything] from cameras breaking to sound equipment messing up, but when it became a more political story, with death threats, it became scary even for editing the film. Because you don't know who's watching you. This one time, I was with him in the car, filming, and we were being followed. So we kind of had to be very careful who we are telling about the story. It was a very deep secret that we were making this film and there are people who are watching it now asking, 'How could you keep this from us from all these years?' Because we had to do that. Especially when the family was in the US. We had to do that for the sake of safety for him, Boniface, for his family but also the film team. I remember doing the pitches with different names. But then we were also lucky that we had our co-producing partner in Canada, Eye Steel Film, so they were able to house the edit there. I went to Canada to edit and that kind of also gives you a kind of freedom to think and work and create. That was the reality, and now I think we have PTSD from the film. I can't film another protest. I'm sorry. I'm out. Like, it tapped me out.

There are similarities to the Black Lives Matter protests here in the US, against police brutality and violence but the slogan takes on a different resonance in places like Kenya, where the police force is particularly heavy-handed. How do you see these protests as being similar but also different?

There are two things that you learn with the film. One, our voices can never be silenced. They will try, but I think humanity is like a pressure cooker. The more you boil us, the more you put that heat, the more explosive we become. And through people like Boniface's life, you see that there are human beings who exist, who do extraordinary things.

The other thing is the idea of activism doesn't necessarily just speak to the person who's on the street. It doesn't necessarily speak to the person who's holding the placard. An activist is someone like Njere and her life, and her family. And Khadija [Mohamed, Mwangi's campaign manager]. She's such a strong and powerful activist in her own right. She was Boniface's campaign manager for free. The work they did was so powerful. And you have these other people in the background who are doing such incredible things. The sum total of what they've done is [to] instigate… We have an election next year, but I am so sure that we are going to have so many candidates who are going to be like, 'We want you to donate to our campaign. We have these values and beliefs; this is what we want to do.' That is how we need to go about change or add on to the conversations of change.

The same thing that's happening with the Black Lives Matters movement. Yes, there are people going to the street and we should keep going to the street. But we need to push people to engage in policy and make sure these policy changes are made.

We need to stand for what we believe in, as filmmakers in spaces where we feel oppression exists. Like the rules that have come out with the Academy Awards, these are rules that should be celebrated because they add on to that conversation of diversity and representation. All these things—that sum total—is what makes the difference. It's going beyond the streets and going beyond our Tweets, going beyond our Facebook messages, making films and sharing films. We just need to keep pumping up the volume, keeping the heat up, keep pushing. It's gonna take a while, but we'll get there.


Photojournalist-turned-politician Boniface Mwangi during a protest in Nairobi, Kenya Photo courtesy of Sam Soko


That's where you as a filmmaker come in—this film was the first Kenyan film to get into Sundance, where it won a special editing prize.

There's another film I'm producing and, and, yes, I had my film at Sundance, that's great. But there's this other filmmaker who's making another film, and it's so cool, and this is the thing—we need to keep bouncing off this energy and this light and this vibe, and just keep pushing and making sure that the wheels keep turning. That's what we're all about.

How do you renew your strength, as a filmmaker but also as a Kenyan and as an African?

Being a Kenyan is hard. I think being an African is hard. Like, it's hard. There's a line I heard Boniface say once: 'I love my country, but I am afraid of my government.' But the way in which, personally, I find energy is when I meet new filmmakers, or you know, people who are like starting out and they want to make films that sound totally crazy. And they believe that they can do it. And I'm like, 'yes, yes, keep going!' We are planning to do a premiere. We have not confirmed the date yet but we're thinking it's around going to be early October in Kenya, because Kenyans haven't watched it. The government gave us an adult rating. They're putting us on the same level as porn.

This is the same government that banned Wanuri Kahiu's Rafiki because of its homosexual theme…

Exactly, that's what we're getting but the lemonade that we've made out of all this is, 'Guess what? This is cinema!' We're going to take it to a cinema. People are going to come to watch it in a cinema or watch it at home or watch it in the best way possible. And the people who've watched it have appreciated it as a film and a story, and their story. They've seen a reflection of themselves. That gives me so much joy because the Kenyans who've watched it, when they give you feedback, they say, this is truth; this is our truth. And they don't see just an activist. They see a couple struggling with love. They see our history in the last 10 years. And they're like, 'What the hell, we lived this?' and they see the things that are unresolved — and many things are unresolved. Seeing that reaction gives me so much strength and hope. But it's hard. It's very hard. Because, you know, you have to wake up and see the policeman getting a bribe. And you're like, 'Homie??'


"SOFTIE" Movie Poster



Watch the trailer for Softie here.

Softie | Official Trailer | A film by Sam Soko www.youtube.com

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