By Nolitha Ngamlana
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 8 of VARSITY.
Living in the digital age, it is excepted for people to centre most of their lives through various social media platforms. Social media helps us either construct or enhance certain aspects of our lives. Businesses are created, brands are promoted, comedy is thriving, and vlogs that aesthetically document people’s daily lives have all become trendy thanks to social media. One of these social media platforms is YouTube.
Some Youtubers have migrated from Vine or Musical.ly proving that YouTube has outlasted most social media platforms. It has become a space where people can be creative through tutorials, DIYs, gaming, skits or your typical rant videos. YouTube has seen a huge ‘world shrink and connect’. It has even been successful enough to create its own alternate entertainment industry which has established what we call ‘YouTube stars/celebrities’ or “YouTubers”. A few years ago, the YouTuber industry was astronomical, with a reach all around the world. However, in the last few years this has drastically declined.
Despite the demise of international YouTube celebrities, young South African YouTubers are on the rise with a fresh take to using the social media platform. Comedy in South Africa has become a way to engage in social issues that are not commonly engaged with. Representation is important and so YouTube has become a platform where minorities can speak up. The content produced may help the YouTuber gain fame and income. However, it also gets people talking.
Commonly known as Tafire, Siyabulela Deli is a rising YouTuber who started creating comedy skits in 2016. He has since created trending comedic videos that are relatable to South Africans. He has infused comedy with commonly shared racial experiences of the South African youth. What is fantastic is he doesn’t just use English – he uses isiXhosa and Afrikaans as part of his skits. He touches base on experiences of black youths and takes serious issues such as lack of finances in our homes to create a good laugh.
Also known as Lasiwe, Thulasizwe is a YouTuber, entertainer, and comedian. He does not shy away from using comedy to not only express his humour, but his sexuality as well. In March 2017, he uploaded a YouTube video titled Being Gay. In South Africa, there are not a lot of YouTubers who belong to the LGBTIQIA+ communities and so he speaks about how he is not ashamed of who he is. Queerness and the LGBTIQIA+ communities are another aspect that South Africa needs to engage in and discuss. The point is to not find out who is for or against the LGBTIQIA+ communities, but to get people to speak about these issues and find out what why there is so much hate and violence in the country against the LGBTIQIA+ communities.
While South African Youtubers may be hilarious and creative, their videos do pose a question of how inclusive South African society and the media truly is. They also help reflect on how we can engage with social issues without getting upset about them.
And lastly, there is no drama within the South African YouTube scene compared to other Western countries. The content does not thrive off creating fake beef between people or trying to use social media as a hate site. We are able to discuss serious issues without the fear of being judged and without having to be upset. We can even laugh at our struggles and this does not take away the importance of the message but tries to create unity for the South African youth, irrespective of what race they belong to.
There are so many more successful South African YouTubers who were not mentioned in this list – make sure to follow them and participate in their success!