A candid look at Kenya’s social media gurus of 2020
The year 2020 hasn’t behaved well. It’s been so cruel to many people, thanks to the merciless coronavirus. However, as Grace Wachira writes, there have been sensational online entertainment gurus that have continued to help netizens wade through the swamp.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, no one anticipated that it would take its toll on us.
The immobility that was supposed to last a few weeks or months has lasted quite a while.
It goes without saying that the entertainment industry was grossly affected with gigs and even some television shows going on unprecedented cancellations and breaks because of the measures that were stipulated and effected.
But even through the thick of things, our resilient nature as Kenyans stirred a few gold mines.
In the digital space, social media challenges such as the #UtawezanaChallenge became a phenomenon with TikTok garnering more and more users.
Owing to the fact that there are numerous digital platforms, great content was birthed all around us.
The ‘digital migration’ was just so seamless. We all logged onto to our devices because the forces of the circumstances had us by our throats.
The digital space has become a space where we all meet since we begun to observe the Covid-19 regulations.
Even then, somewhere between the gloomy clouds was a silver lining. While many grappled with the changed lifestyles following closing of shops, Kenyans were served with lemons and a few of them made lemonade for life to continue.
It is amazing how humour redirects the focus of the human mind. Time and time again, Kenyans have made light of nerve-wrecking events and situations, political and non-political, and sailed through.
If there is ever a time we turned to humour to numb the motions we all went through, it is this period.
After his first resoundingly successful comedy special stand-up in February this year, the brilliant funny man Njugush (Timothy Kimani) with 1.8 million followers on Instagram made the show available on his YouTube channel just when most of us were all forced to retreat to our homes.
Thousands followed the witty and hilarious videos from the comfort of their homes.
Together his wife Celestine Ndinda aka Wa-Kavinye, he started sharing videos of their son Tugi on his social platforms and this was a welcome surprise.
So much that Tugi now has a YouTube channel to his name with more than 103,000 subscribers.
Kenyans are treated to Tugi’s everyday activities dotted with wit just like his parents; the apple does not fall far from the tree.
So far, Tugi is one of the most popular celebrity children online and it’s not hard to see why.
Truth is, humour has indeed been a pillar of strength for Kenyans during this thick time if the large numbers and impressions from digital content creators’ pages are anything to go by.
Comedian Flaqo, the brainchild behind the Mama Otis skits, appreciates the upsurge in numbers across his accounts since the directive to stay at home was issued.
With more than 252,000 subscribers, the young comedian entertained us. He has more than 362,000 followers on his Instagram page and never disappoints.
“It depends on how we look at Covid-19. I chose to look at it as a blessing in disguise.
Not that I am glad we have the pandemic, but I’m looking on the bright side,” says the influencer who has since bagged cooperate influencer deals, observing that his skits are garnering up to 2,000 comments and that the engagement has been good to his brand.
“I know it’s because a lot of us are home with tonnes of free time on our hands, and that’s why even on Twitter, the vines are getting more retweets than before,” he says.
In the same breath, other acts such as Crazy Kennar and Cartoon Comedian have since blown up.
They carefully craft their storylines along everyday life including relationships, and crack us up day after day with their relatable curated comedy out of every day lives.
On Instagram, they each have 237,000 and 155,000 followers respectively.
Amidst it all, there has also been a growing niche for inspiration and motivation.
When the rubber met the road, all we needed was some motivation to keep us going. Jobs and business grinded to a halt and life’s everyday course took a different path.
Personalities such as Jalang’o, MC Jessy, Nonini and Richard Njau aka A-Star pursued that space.
These three uniquely tell us the stories of persons within and without the showbiz industry; persons who we look up to.
In between his transition between media houses, Jalang’o started his YouTube channel Bonga Na Jalas.
He has sat down with heavyweights in the entertainment industry and delved into varied matters.
Comprehensive sit downs with the makers and movers in the industry have served as inspiration as well as entertainment on his channel, and also on both MC Jessy’s Jessy Junction, Nonini’s Rhymes Na Nonini and Cleaning The Airwaves (CTA) by A-Star.
“Covid-19 was a challenge that we looked at as an opportunity. It isn’t the same traction we had when we begun but, we still have people tuned in because of the kind of great content we put out there for them and hence the views.
The truth is now, as channels, we are competing among ourselves, but the fact that we are keeping people happy and entertained, is why we keep going,” says Jalang’o.
CTA has hosted music maestros such as Aaron Rimbui, Fena Gitu, Nonini, Juliani and industry shapers including DNG and Pete Odera.
Jessy Junction has had sit-downs with radio queen Kamene Goro, and actress Catherine Kamau-Karanja, among other big names in the industry.
The videos have thousands of views and impressions and it shows that Kenyans are heavily consuming digital content.
Familiar household name and skilled film director Abel Mutua too made his debut on YouTube.
The talented storyteller started his Wakurugenzi ‘movement’. He begun to narrate the stories of his life to his followers on Instagram TV where he became an instant hit.
He once mentioned in his videos that the fact that he receives such positive feedback about people, who were just about to throw in the towel, makes all his story telling worthwhile. “And this right here is the reason why we do it,” he says.
It is a known fact that Kenyans also enjoy their share of mushene. On this front, Edgar Obare—the king of gossip— has not held back when it comes to telling us what our celebrities have been up to and the numbers that keep up with the serving are entertained.
Edgar posts about the dirt our local celebrities have been in on his Insta stories.
As previously observed, some of the ‘exposes’ he does trend for days and keep us talking and moving and attract lots of negative backlash. Life goes on and we move on regardless.
All we hope for is that the lessons that have come with this pandemic will make us better humans. That it will make businesses fluorish, for more people to live decent lives.