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The rise of Naija new online video celebrities

By Daniel Anazia
02 July 2016   |   3:57 am
Videos have become the essential part of pop culture and for generation Z, the kids born with the tech-gene, sharing videos of the things they hate or love has become almost as important as breathing.


Videos have become the essential part of pop culture and for generation Z, the kids born with the tech-gene, sharing videos of the things they hate or love has become almost as important as breathing. They are everywhere now, on mobile phones, handheld devices, laptops and even your trusty old desktop.

In Nigeria, there is a new band of celebrities — influential and trend setting non Hollywood types, whose appeal lies not in a notorious family name or the allure of a leaked sex tape, but in content that is both fascinating and relevant.

Comedian and video producer, Felix Kjellberg, is one example. A few years ago, his name rang no bells outside his native Sweden. By December 2015, however, his Let’s Play commentaries and vlogs on gaming channel PewDiePie had earned him over 44 million subscribers worldwide, making him the most subscribed user on YouTube. It also appeared at the top of Forbes’ October 2015 list of the richest YouTube stars with a reported $12 million earned in 2015.

Not known for cooling its heels while the grass grows under its feet, Nigeria has cottoned on to the power of the YouTube ‘influencer’. Just like the global trend, the country has witnessed the rise of stars, with channels courted by brands, and viewed by a steadily growing number of loyal subscribers eager for more comedy and satire or just interested in the back story on someone else’s daily life.

What is it about Nigeria’s YouTube stars that have caught the heart of a country? It’s simple actually, whether in comedy or satire, fashion, beauty or reality, their protagonists are non-pretentious, never shy to express personal opinions, and always connect to the heart of Naija. Here is a look at 10 Naija YouTube stars and why they have become the nation’s sweethearts

Emmanuella Samuel
(MarkAngel Comedy)

Comedy is huge and one young Nigerian comedienne who is taking the platform by storm is six years old Emmanuella. Ranked as one of Nigeria’s top rated YouTube users with over 280 thousand subscribers and views regularly exceeding three million; each video features Emmanuella doing or saying something utterly outrageous, just like every child her age.

Her witty comebacks have put the MarkAngel team’s skits firmly on the map, but her surprising acting talent, which includes her arsenal of interesting facial expressions, is the cherry on the cake. When the script calls for a straight face, for example, Emmanuella puts up one like a poker player and when it’s time for a frown, Charles Dickens’ Scrooge has got nothing on the youngster.

Toke Makinwa (Toke Moments)
On-air personality and co-presenter of the Morning Drive on Rhythm 93.7FM, Toke Makinwa is one of a handful of TV/radio presenters who have successfully crossed over to YouTube stardom. It’s no holds barred with Toke, as she dishes on relationship issues, love drama and celebrity chitchat on her channel, Toke Moments. Her no-nonsense approach, razor-edged tongue and willingness to go where angels fear to tread have made her a firm favourite with her over 32 thousand subscribers.

Akah Nnani (AkahBants)
For the former co-presenter of Entertainment Splash on TV Continental, Akah Nnani, his eponymous channel Akah’s Bant, is famous for videos of his comments on social issues and uncanny impersonations. ‘I shall be Buff’ — Nnani’s take on the mannerisms of a popular pastor garnered over 12,000 views.

Yemisi Odusanya
Celebrity blogger, Sisi Yemmie, also gives her 23,000 subscribers a front seat view of her life as a wife, mother and Lagos resident. Her honest, unvarnished videos and commentary on her experiences as a new mother have endeared her to thousands of Nigerians.

Osagie Alonge (Pulse TV)
His Facts Only on Pulse TV is one of Nigeria’s top purveyors of gist online. Unlike Toke, he only spills the beans on what’s going on behind the scenes in Nigeria’s entertainment industry. His provocative take on issues in the Nigerian entertainment industry has made Pulse TV the go to channel for objective reviews.

Adanna Ohakim Steinacker (AdannaDavid)
The rise of reality TV has apparently spilled over to YouTube, even in Nigeria. From the desire to know what the lives of other people are like, or just a need to infuse a little more drama into boring daily routines; whatever the case, channels such as Adanna David, which follows the life of the bi-racial Dublin couple, have over 150,000 subscribers, with the video on their wedding receiving over a million views.

Ikenna Azuike (What’s Up Africa)
Flying the green-white-green with pride, the London-based lawyer, Ikenna Azuike with his satirical, pop-culture channel ‘What’s Up Africa’, with its quirky, hilarious videos, offering a unique take on Africa and Africans.

Tapping into Naija peeps love for comedy and deep appreciation of irony, Ikenna explores everything from explosive elections, to the ban on bleaching creams with irreverence and a delightful disregard for convention.

With more than 16,000 subscribers and average video views of over 10,000, What’s up Africa’s remarkable success has taken it mainstream, earning the programme a weekly slot on BBC’s Focus on Africa.

Patricia Bright
‘Beauty is in the eye of whoever is looking’, but with everyone becoming more image-conscious, demand has never been higher for beauty and style tricks, tips and hacks. What better place to get a quick, free lesson than the fashion and beauty channel, Patricia Bright, (with over 876,000 subscribers) offers all that and more, with a massive dose of charm.

Chidinma Umeh (ThatIgboChic)
Over two million people have sought beauty advice from Dimma Umeh, as she is fondly called by close associates. Her That Igbo Chic is a one stop shop for everything skincare, hair and makeup.

Kunle Idowu (Frank Donga)
Kunle Idowu, whose moniker, Frank Donga, rose to fame on GTBank’s Ndani TV, starring in the online comedy series The Interview. When the online channel brought out the series about the hilarious job seeking character, it was a runaway hit. Frank Donga was nominated in the 2016 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards.