Web video is one of those revolutionary inventions that has really opened up the world in dramatic ways. For example, 2011 YouTube statistics show that over 48 hours of video are now uploaded per minute, and YouTube has surpassed 3 billion views per day. TED’s Chris Anderson made the assertion that web video is powering global innovation in this 2010 TED talk:

Without a doubt, web video is here to stay and in a big way, particularly when combined with mobile - this is exactly what moved Zoopy, formerly a video sharing website out of South Africa, to focus on mobile video.

Well, this got us to wondering if we could pick out 3 YouTube videos from across sub-saharan Africa that caused a bit of a stir, particularly because of their local (this meaning a certain group of people could connect in a very close way to the author, character or nature of the video whether they are in the said country or it’s diaspora) relevance even though published on a medium that has no boundaries and knows no particular culture (except perhaps that of creativity and sharing) and here’s what we got:

From Kenya: ‘Makmende’

This was actually the video of Just-a-Band’s hit song ‘Ha-He’. The video depicts a heroic character by the name ‘Makmende’. To understand the significance, of ‘Makmende’ would take some understanding of local sheng’ language, and a bit of history. The character and his depiction really captured the minds of Kenyans with memories from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Makmende’s Wikipedia article (which he is too big to fit in), does a fairly good job of describing the origins of the word

The word Makmende is a sheng (Swahili slang) word which means “a hero”.[2] The name supposedly originated from a mispronunciation of a phrase spoken by Dirty Harry, played by Clint Eastwood, “Go ahead, make my day” (Mek ma nday) from the 1983 movie Sudden Impact. The word made its way into Kenyan streets in the 1990s whereby in the streets a bad-guy wannabe would be called out and asked “Who do you think you are? Makmende?”. Anyone who thought they could do the impossible or a particularly difficult task was always asked whether they thought they were Makmende, since only Makmende could do or attempt to do the impossible. The character Makmende is associated with the fashion wear of the early 1980s. He is portrayed with long John Shaft-like afro hair and bell bottom trousers that were the trend then.

This video literally took Kenyans by storm, the result was all manner of heroic graphics featuring Makmende and punch lines on Facebook and Twitter about how super the super hero was like -

“Just heard that Makmende can tweet 141 letters!”;

“Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears #Makmende pajamas”;

“#makmende is so cool, Even his enemies list him as their emergency contact number”;

“#Makmende can never have a heart attack, his heart is not so foolish to attack him.”

“After platinum, albums go Makmende”

“Makmende hangs his clothes on a safaricom line and when they dry he stores them in a flashdisk!”

From Nigeria: D’banj Oliver Twist

D’banj is a Nigerian singer-songwriter whose video for the song ‘Oliver Twist’ got over 16,000 views on YouTube within 24 hours:

The song and video were produced by Mo’Hits Records who then went ahead to announce a competition where anyone could record a video clip of themselves or their group dancing to the Oliver song. The winner of this competition was even more popular than the original video:

From South Africa: The Boy Named ‘Vicus’

This one is as much a story of the musician as it is of the video that went viral.

A video is posted on YouTube of a boy named Vicus playing a guitar and singing the song “These Arms” by “All for One”; the video goes viral and moves the hearts of many including Sony International and other big time record companies. The problem however was that no one can find the young man! Moreover there are multiple copies of the video online making it hard to even find the original uploader. The result is a bit of a race to track down the talented Vicus


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