Khaya Dlanga

Show them

2010-05-18 08:17

YouTube launches in South Africa. Now show the world how great we are.

A very, very, very long time ago, the 1968th year of our Lord Jesus Christ, the great artist Andy Warhol said, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." In those days the world was still in black and white, except of course for his paintings. It has been a long time since then, the world is now in full colour and we are living in the future that man predicted so many years ago.

Kulula’s famous pay-off line, “Now anyone can fly,” can be easily adapted to: now anyone can be famous.

WARNING: Rant coming up! Not withstanding my personal gripe with Kulula for completely and unashamedly mispronouncing the word “Kulula” in its advertising. They pronounce the word “Khulula” which means to undress. For years, I believed passengers would have to undress to fly, which is why I never flew with them (that plus I was a lowly paid employee back then and couldn’t afford to fly.) What they really want to say is “Kulula,” meaning it’s easy. It’s been mispronounced for years. This has been a source of a great deal of irritation to me for many. I digress. As usual.

Yesterday YouTube marked its fifth year of existence and celebrated by making South African the 23rd country it’s launching in.

Getting to know South Africans

I was fortunate enough to crack an invite because I have been uploading videos on YouTube since 2006. In internet years that is a long time. I have three channels. Khayav is my comedy channel or silly channel if you wish. In its peak, when I uploaded at least two to three videos a week I went on to become the fifth most subscribed to channels and one of the most viewed comedians in the world. Yes, an African boy. At some point I even got to ask Barack Obama a question which he answered on YouTube. (No one is ever going to hear the end of this. My kids, my grandkids, my great grandkids, unless of course someday Obama gets to ask me a question.)

Because no one was watching me in South Africa, I was being watched in the States, Canada, Britain and Australia amongst other countries. Needless to say I got a lot of questions, “What? You’re from Africa?” “You’all have computers over there?” “Can you say something in African?” “Wow, your offices look nice! They’re better than the ones we have here in America” “Wow, there are no elephants, it looks just like here in America” and my personal favourite. “Go back to Africa!” The world became smaller. People were curious about us. Even if they were being rude, they wanted to know and I made sure they did.

The world becomes your audience. You tell your stories how you want. It’s like your own TV channel that people can choose to tune into. Just ask Cobus the drummer. South Africa’s most viewed and most subscribed to channel. He is more famous overseas than he is over here. Unlike me, he has great talent that he showcases; he’s a great drummer and people appreciate that. He was at the launch too.

This is what YouTube posted on its blog on May 17, the day it launched in South Africa: “The goal here is to give South Africans a way to easily discover local content and content producers. From now on when users in South Africa visit the site, they will see, for example, the most popular and most viewed videos in South Africa along with local content that closely matches their interests.” Local interests.

This is one of the ways that people will be able to showcase their talents. Do it for the love and somehow, some day someone will pay you for it. If you like to sing, sing. If you like to paint, take us through your drawing process. If you like talking makeup, talk about makeup and show the ladies how you do it. If you like being silly, be silly. All that is required is that you be interesting, that people find you interesting.

When you start uploading, don’t think you’re going to be famous over night. Yet you might be. It might happen but chances are it won’t. You’ll have to build an audience over time. When I started, I remembered being thrilled that I got 50 views for a video or 50 subscribers. I nearly died when one of my videos got a 50 000 views. Then my channel reached a million views. Now it’s multiple million times. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a good two years. People need to trust you. They will tell their friends about your channel, and their friends will tell their friends and then, who knows, you could be the next big internet sensation.

A creative nation

I would like to see more South Africans on there. I want more people making videos. We are an incredibly creative country and the world needs to see us in all our diversity.

Earlier this year I was allowed to sit next to US Ambassador Donald Gips for reasons beyond me. He spoke about South Africa’s creativity. He said that this has to be one of the most creative countries in the world. He could have gone to any country of his choosing but he wanted to come to South Africa because we’re not just creative when it comes to the arts, but in how we solve problems.

I would like to see our creativity on YouTube and I know there are huge stars waiting to be born on YouTube, people who will surpass anything I have been fortunate enough to do on the site. I want that to happen as soon as possible. Let’s show the people of the world what great people we are. In fact let’s not just “Show dem”, let’s show off how great we are. Now go and upload a video on YouTube.

Cobus Portgieter's channel:www.youtube.com/user/deedlebag.

My Channels:
- Comedy stupidity, or whatever you want to call it.
- My political channel.
- I teach people Xhosa.

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