16 Aug., 2016

JWT Cape Town's Nwabisa Mda and Bongeka Masango Discuss Their YouTube Success

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JWT Cape Town's Nwabisa Mda and Bongeka Masango are two of the three power players behind YouTube channel “Pap Culture.”The content-creation duo formed Pap Culture with fellow South African YouTuber Thembe Mahlaba. Together, they curated an entertainment platform that brings the authenticity of South African youth culture to the digital landscape.

“The channel,” the trio writes, “is intended to provide viewers with fresh content, but most importantly, to provide entertainment that leaves you with a smile on your face.”

Nwabisa, a Junior Strategist and Bongeka, a Junior Account Executive were recently featured in 10and5’s list of young South Africans who have made outstanding contributions in shaping the country’s creative and cultural discourse.

10and5’s Gabriella Pinto commented: “Pap Culture doesn’t shy away from getting to the core of what makes us tick. On their Youtube channel they discuss heated issues from voting and ethnicity to light-hearted topics like finding a bae and social media etiquette.”

We sat down with Nwabisa and Bongeka to discuss the inspiration behind Pap Culture and what they hope the future will look like for their budding YouTube channel.

Bongeka Masango

How did “Pap Culture” come to life? What inspired you, Nwabisa and Thembe to start the channel?

We are all friends and had spoken about starting a YouTube channel a couple of times over dinner. So one day I got a camera and told the the other two to be ready at the weekend to shoot! We began filming and have never looked back. Creating our own channel filled a need – conspicuous by their absence were South African content creators, particularly on YouTube, who represented young black middle class females. We knew we had stories to tell and were sure people would want to hear them. Many of our peers and South Africans in general were already on their phones watching videos anyway – so why not have our thoughts and opinions available to them?

What does Pap Culture mean? Why did you choose this name?

The name Pap Culture doesn’t actually mean anything. We came up with the name when Thembe was trying to say Pop Culture and by accident said Pap Culture. We laughed and decided it would make a great name for a South African channel. Pap is a typical dish made from maize, enjoyed by all South Africans across economic and cultural groups. Eaten hot, often with meat during a Braai, we hoped to bring that same paradox, homogenous-diversity if you like, to our content, because we speak about popular culture. We may be young black females, but our experiences of the world and our thoughts can easily resonate with anyone, anywhere.

What YouTubers inspire you?

I’m inspired by an array of various YouTubers. I love Shirley B. Eniang, Patricia Bright, Mr Ben Brown, Sibu Mpanza, Suzelle DIY, Jacksgap and Tyler Oakley. I enjoy them all because they’re so different from one another but have all found success in their respective channels. I’ve followed a lot of them since they were small YouTubers and it’s so lovely seeing how much they’ve grown and gotten better in the YouTube space. I hope Pap Culture reaches that level of success.

Nwabisa Mda

What do you think most people get wrong about South African youth culture?

That we are lazy, irresponsible, not driven, don’t know what we want in life, are radical and aren’t positively making the most of the freedom our grandparents, mothers and fathers fought for. But young people have really proven otherwise. We are redefining our generation through our voices and using our power to truly influence and shift the socio-political/economic conversation and situation in this country because for the first time in a while, young people truly believe they can make a difference and they are.

What are your hopes for the future of Pap Culture? How do you wish to evolve the channel?

I hope our audience grows and we re-introduce YouTube into the South African market. In the main, South Africans use YouTube to watch / find new music and music videos. Meanwhile there are a lot of young talented people creating cool video content specifically for YouTube; content that would not necessarily be discussed or found on Radio or TV – the predominant means of accessing local content in South Africa. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t know how to subscribe to channels; that there are channels on YouTube or how the platform works beyond watching videos. So there’s a huge education job about YouTube that we as South African YouTubers need to do and going forward we want to do just that. We want to create a content hub that will both reflect our opinions as the collective while also introducing new people – locals and people from other parts of Africa – to curate their own content through our platform and then we want to explore other formats of video content.

How does working as a strategist give you the edge in what content you create for your channel?

It helps me contribute a somewhat structured plan for our content in a way that is able to live across multiple platforms. It also helps me contribute to the work we do through focusing the channel on tailored content for each of our four segments – Talks, Reacts, Ride Along and On Location. And that’s where the homogenously-diverse element comes in as we entertain and showcase our perspective for our topics. Devising and delivering content for the channel is great experience – learning on the job as we go. Content planning is intuitive for us as the collective and we create according to what feels right at the time. Our content is driven by the conversations happening in the country at the time and we focus on driving these conversations further through entertainment and bringing varied perspectives on certain issues to truly reflect our opinions as young South Africa.

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