Meet Khaby Lame and Elsa Majimbo , Africa’s TikTokers taking the world by storm

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Khaby Lame and Elsa Majimbo are putting Africa on the map with their hilarious TikTok videos. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Khaby Lame and Elsa Majimbo are putting Africa on the map with their hilarious TikTok videos. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

He's known for making millions without saying a word and she is the queen of witty one-liners.

Khaby Lame and Elsa Majimbo may be worlds apart but the one thing they have in common is that they turned their downtime during lockdown into comedy gold.

Now they're among the hottest content creators on the globe.

Khaby from Senegal has overtaken American TikTok star Charli D’Amelio to become the most followed person on the social media platform with a whopping 142,8 million followers.

Khaby (22) joined TikTok two years ago and posts under the name @khaby.lame.

"The pandemic had just started and I was bored, with a lot of time on my hands, so I started making videos on TikTok," he told Forbes.

He's since made a name for himself mocking life hack videos made by other TikTokers.

With his deadpan expression, disapproving stare and iconic hand gestures, Khaby is proof that silence is sometimes indeed golden. 

“Making people laugh has always been my biggest passion in life,” he says.

“Most of my inspiration comes from my everyday life. I surf the net, TikTok and other social platforms for ideas,” he adds.

“Every day, I spend at least three hours looking for the right video to parody.”

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By the end of 2020 the comedian had become the face of Boss formerly known as Hugo Boss, alongside reality star and supermodel Kendal Jenner. 

Khaby has since gone on to introduce superstar Harry Styles to a crowd of 80 000 at the Capital’s Summertime Ball in London.

He's also made a video with British singer Ed Sheeran and AC Milan soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

When it comes to selecting his content, he says he doesn’t want to offend anyone. “I always prefer to joke with light-hearted parody,” he says.

“I think the reason that I am silent speaks louder – it is accessible to more people than if I would make my videos in English. I speak a universal language that everyone understands.”

Unlike Khaby, Elsa isn’t one to hold her tongue.

The Kenyan-born comedienne has become a hit for her catchy one-liners.

“If you’re not poor today, what will motivate you to go to work tomorrow?” she says in one video.

“If you’re not spending your money in restaurants, who will? When I’m spending money, I’m paying taxes – it’s called patriotism,” she quips in another.

Elsa (20) became a social media star using her rose-gold iPhone 6. She claimed she saved for six months for her “most prized possession”.  

In her videos she's seen wearing Matrix-style shades and crunching on snacks while expressing pretend contempt about all those who feel sad about quarantine.

At first, she started making the videos for her own enjoyment.

“I’d make them and I’d think, 'I’m so funny!' I’d watch the videos and just laugh!” she told Forbes.

“I wouldn’t care if other people found them funny or not. Turns out, the videos have also brought other people joy and I’m so happy they did.”

Elsa was studying journalism when the pandemic started. During lockdown, she sought to entertain herself and others with short, funny cellphone videos shot in her bedroom.

Little did she know that her work would soon be seen by 2,5 million followers on Instagram, reaching the likes of superstars Rihanna and Naomi Campbell.

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Elsa, who has also made Forbes' 30 under 30 list, can't believe how far she's come.

“I’m young, I’m African, I’m a woman and on top of all that I’m dark skinned, so things are way harder than they are for others,” she says.

Elsa has since quit her studies to be a full-time content creator.

She now lives in Los Angeles and earns “Hollywood money”, she says.

She isn’t just an internet sensation with famous fans.

She’s also a chess champion and has won 15 chess titles.

Elsa employs the same strategies when deciding which big brands to partner with.

"Chess is an intuitive game because you don’t know what move your opponent will make next, so you have to make yours based off your gut," she says.

"I always trust my intuition.”

And her intuition seems to spot-on. After all, it’s taken her from Nairobi to Hollywood.


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