By Nomali Cele
In just ten years, the internet has changed how we communicate and it has very definitely made the world a little bit smaller – even if it’s just for the younger generation with access to data bundles, which are the currency that keeps the ‘net ticking. There are voices using digital to do more than just document, their work is contributing to a changing narrative about Africa.
This Friday, we are telling you: follow these three people.
A popular YouTube channel, an Instagram account and a Tumblr account are the primary platforms on which Nigerian artist Yagazie Emezi (27) works in a visual arts space. The Tumblr website, which she describes as “dedicated to the cultural preservation of the African aesthetic” grew into a popular space for the African diaspora by 2013.
Take a look at any of Emezi’s digital property, and you will see a young woman who is dedicated to her Africanness and to showing it to the world as it is. She also draws cartoons featuring a comedic, big-haired brown woman navigating the mundane parts of life. One thing that comes across in Emezi’s work, be it on video, through photography or her illustration, is her honesty.
Follow Yagazie Emezi on Instagram
Calling herself a satirist, Botswana-born Siyanda Mohutsiwa (22) is a writer and mathematics student. Nowhere else is her biting satirical tongue more visible than on her twitter feed, which is followed by thousands of other Africans. But Mohutsiwa is not only in the business of poking fun at our colourful nature as Africans, she also uses her platform to unite us in our thinking and start conversations. After all, she self-identifies as Pan-Africanist.
With her viral hashtag #IfAfricaWasABarshe of July 27, 2015, she drove conversation for days on end, encouraging African Twitter users to poke fun at each other and themselves with references to history, scandal and tension between the neighbours. Late in 2015, she went on to give a talk at TedxAmsterdam about the power of the internet and Africa’s online future.
Follow Siyanda Muhutsiwa on Twitter.
Khaya Dlanga (38) is a South African columnist and author from the Eastern Cape who has published two essay collections. At one point, his was one of the YouTube channels with the most subscribers in South Africa. In November, 2007, Barack Obama (while he was still just a senator from Illinois) visited the YouTube headquarters for an interview. Dlanga was one of the YouTube users selected to ask Obama a question, which he answered here.
These days, Dlanga has mostly left YouTube behind but has gone on to be one of the key African talk drivers on social platform Twitter when his questions – always “innocent” – drive conversations for hours and even lead to trending topics. When he is not on Twitter, he is penning contentious columns for online platforms that range from the Mail & Guardian to News24.
Follow Khaya Dlanga on Twitter
If Mohutsiwa’s talk and prediction were, in fact, correct and Africa’s future is indeed online, it’s in safe hands with these and other young digital pioneers leading the way.
Which Africans do you think we should be following online?