Three young black women decided to come together and start Pap Culture.
This is a trio which consists of Bongeka Masango, Nwabisa Mda and Thembe Mahlaba. They decided to get on YouTube and use it as a platform to engage and address issues relevant to the youth of South Africa. Their solid content is what makes them so popular in the local YouTube community, discussing heated and thought-provoking topics in politics, relationships, social and lifestyle.
We caught up with the trio to chat about their journey, the Youtube community and of course their content.
Here is our interview with Pap Culture:
How did you guys meet?
Bongeka and Thembe met back in drama class in high school (Pinetown Girls’ High School). Fast forward to 2015, Bongeka moved to Cape Town and Thembe introduced her to Nwabisa. Nwabisa and Thembe met through a mutual friend back in University (UCT) and have been friends since.
When & how did the idea on YouTube start?
The channel started in 2015 and we were all interested in entertaining in some kind of capacity and at the time, there weren’t many channels created by young black woman. So Pap Culture in a way was a reaction of us creating content we felt we weren’t seeing online. Initially we were keen for a channel that would focus on popular culture / celebrity culture but when we started creating, it was so much easier to create content that represented us and our opinions on life in SA (both positive and negative).
We wanted to create an entertainment hub that shares conversations we’re all having, but are confining to chats behind closed doors. We wanted to address topics that matter to young people and becomes a documentation of authentic conversations that become a true representation of what it means to be young in South Africa and one day, Africa at large.
Why the name PAP CULTURE?
The name came from Thembe. We were at dinner talking about how we wanted the channel to come to life. From potential conversations / topics we could address, guests etc. Then Thembe trying to say “popular culture” mistakenly said Pap Culture and the name just stuck. It felt right and it just made sense.
How do you come up with the various topics/discussions on your videos?
We try and create content that entertains both us and our viewers. We initially used public holidays or special days in a said month and we used that as a guide for our conversations. So we’d focus on one that we felt would be more impactful and then we’d ideate around how we could add to the conversation in that month both in a different way and in a way that traditional media platforms wouldn’t do.
But overtime the process became very intuitive for us and ideating became more around brainstorming conversations that just felt right and relevant at any given time. But from July (our birthday month), we’re starting to do things differently. We’re trying to refresh our approach to content and how this lives on our channel. So we’re shifting gears now and working towards executing content ideas we’ve put on the back burner, ideas that were a little tough to execute cause we were still finding our feet.
Can one consider being a YouTuber as a career and still make a killing ($$) out of it?
Definitely. South Africa is still in infant stages when it comes to YouTube, but internationally a lot of people work full time as YouTubers and make real real money.
YouTube the actual platform doesn’t pay unless:
1) you allow for ads to play before / during your video and then by linking your channel to a platform called AdSense you then generate an income. So the ads we’re all skipping, actually impact the amount of money YouTubers make.
2) but views, subscibers and more views is what increases the cash dollar. The more views and subscribers, the better. It’s quite a complicated process that we’re also still figuring out.
But alternatively, a lot of YouTubers also opt for partnering with brands to create content, because there’s still a way to go when it comes to subscriber culture in SA and just people watching YouTube content. But as a content creator it’s important to find the right balance in creating content for brands, especially to create branded content that won’t compromise your channel and process of creating. It’s great to work with brands but it has to be the right fit and must be authentic. Viewers are smart and they see right through creating content just to make money. So the partnerships need to make sense and actually help the growth of your platform.
Your favorite 5 YouTubers ; Local /International?
Tough to choose just 5, but local channels that don’t get enough praise, Anarchadium (Broke Niggaz, Microwave Boys), Okay Wasabi, The A1 (created and hosted by Moyin Oloruntoba), Cynthia Gwebu, The Black Wendy Channel, The Foxy Five, Kansiime Anne (she’s from Uganda but such an amazing and hilarious channel), Thenjiwe Comedy.
International: The Breakfast Club, Issa Rae, Shirley B Eniang, Patricia Bright, The BK Chat, Superwoman, Cecile Emeke (Strolling), Kid Fury.
How do you deal with negative comments or trolls on social media?
It’s definitely tricky and we receive different comments in different ways. Our YouTube channel is set up for us to have a discussion with people about the topic at hand, so it’s always tricky deciding how far you will engage with people who spew hateful comments. On other social media, we really try not to engage, unless we really feel it necessary.
What’s important to you: subscribers, views, or comments?
A bit of everything really. What’s the point in having many subscribers and very few views and comments. We make content for engagement, we want people to watch and discuss, but we also want people to subscribe (#NotificationGang) and for people to share our content.
But definitely Engagement is probably our number one priority, and you see it in how we engage on all platforms. We respond to every single comment everywhere. People take the time to watch and comment on our platforms and because we want to open up more conversations beyond what we say in our videos, it’s important to us to always reach out.
If you could change one thing about South African YouTube community, what would it be?
We need a YouTubeZA fund / stokvel that becomes a source of money for equipment, tech is expensive guys and although producing content doesn’t always require high tech equipment (phones these days are enough to do the trick), a lot of us really want to explore endless possibilities of content creating and access to equipment would be a start.
As we said, YouTube in SA still feels like it’s in it’s infant stage and the few of us really pushing content right now, we’re really trying to build / establish YouTube in South Africa. But to really shift the dial we need more creators, more channels but we’re conscious of the fact that there are many people who want to create content but don’t have the means to, so even a YouTube space would be amazing. Internationally they have spaces for YouTubers to create but the condition is that you have to have at least 10K subscibers. That of course would be super tough in SA and Africa at large, so the conditions would definitely have to be different for Africa.
Advice for new YouTubers: DO and DON’T?
DO have fun while creating. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Post, post, post. Consistency is key. At first you will feel like a drop in the ocean with only 10 views, and 5 subscibers, but the more you post the more people get exposed to your content. Believe in your content, prepare, research…have fun!
DON’T be afraid to ask for help / advice. The YouTube community thrives on collaboration. DON’T let low numbers put you off your personal goals and plans for your content. Things won’t be perfect, and often this process is trial and error but it’s all a part of finding your voice.
DO celebrate all your wins, from your first subscriber, to 100 subscribers, to your first 1000 views, the comments, the first article they write about you, that pat on the back when you see an idea really come to life. It’s challenging at times but acknowledge the great strides and wins is important. These are the motivators along the way that make the journey worthwhile.
All Photos: Supplied*