Kenya’s Biggest YouTube Stars

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Remember my post about starting a YouTube channel in 2019? Well, it gave me an idea for a new article. While looking for content for that post, I had to read a lot of articles and (naturally) watch tons of YouTube videos. Of course I came across some familiar channels, but some took me by surprise.

Obviously, channels belonging to musicians, comedians, TV and radio presenters, and gossip columnists are huge. That’s because these individuals have already received exposure out of YouTube, so their channels are just an extension of their digital presence.

I was more interested in the influencers who had largely started their channels while being relatively unknown, and grown them to the point they had thousands of subscribers. My curiosity made me dig deeper and to my surprise, I discovered some Kenyan Youtubers with tens of thousands of subscribers that I’d never heard of!

My list of Kenya’s Youtube Heavyweights

Here is the list I compiled. To make it, the particular channel had to be largely run by an “amateur”, in the sense that no sleek film production equipment was involved. As alluded to earlier, I also disqualified already famous personalities like musicians, comedians, politicians, socialites, actors, radio presenters and TV news anchors.

The stats below are only accurate as of 25th February 2019. Some of them, such as number of subscribers, videos and views, obviously change every day. I will try my best to update them in future.

Okay, find below my list of Kenya’s biggest YouTube stars you’ve probably never heard of.

25. Nywele Chronicles

Michelle Anyango

This is one of numerous beauty related channels that seem to be a hit with Kenyans. Run by Michelle Anyango, it’s dedicated to natural hair enthusiasts. She shows various ways of styling natural hair and DIY hacks.

24. Sharon Mwangi

Sharon Mwangi

Although Sharon signed up for YouTube in 2013, her profile shows that she started uploading videos 2 years ago. She likes discussing various topics including beauty and skincare, lifestyle, and spirituality.

23. Daniel Penda

Dancers on Daniel Penda’s channel

This guy has a passion for dancing, which is reflected in the videos he posts on his YouTube channel.

22. TechRuzz

TechRuzz

TechRuzz is one of the few channels that goes against established trends (cooking, gossip, beauty, lifestyle & travel). The videos posted are mostly tech tutorials and reviews. They give helpful tips on how to handle the ever evolving world of modern technology.

21. Wanjiru Njiru

Wanjiru Njiru

Wanjiru’s videos cover travel and lifestyle, beauty, and motivation. She also posts some videos covering random topics. Some of them include her boyfriend Ben Cyco, who is a Kenyan gospel musician.

20. Margiey Akinyi

YouTube DIY-er Margiey Akinyi

Margiey’s is a beauty channel with a twist, in that she has lots of DIY videos. She shows you how to turn stuff you might have lying around the house into useful fashion accessories. She also focuses mainly on how to style natural African hair.

19. MR (Rikkie M.)

Rikkie M

I used to follow this girl’s channel in the past, and I could have sworn she had more than four videos. I don’t know if she deliberately took down some, but she was a fast rising star in the Kenyan Youtube vlogging scene. According to her channel, she uploaded her last video a year ago. I hope she’s doing well and is just busy with other projects. Hopefully she’ll be back.

18. Farwat’s Kitchen

Farwat’s kitchen

In this channel, Farwata Shariff shows you how to make tasty Swahili dishes. Unlike other food channels, most of her recipes don’t require expensive kitchen equipment and ingredients. They are meals you can easily make at home. Her passion for cooking is evident by how prolific she is in posting videos.

Although her first video was posted 11 months ago, she already has 21,000 subscribers!

17. Miss Trudy

Miss Trudy

Another Youtuber who comes across as genuine and down to earth. Miss Trudy’s videos are a little different in the sense that she tries out adventurous stuff every now and then. If she’s not reviewing a restaurant, she’s flying to Uganda, or visiting Maasai market.

Her videos are more relatable in my opinion compared to other influencers who insist on always posting about expensive, sophisticated adventures that are out of reach of most Kenyans.

16. The WaJesus Family

The Wajesus Family

This channel is run by a young couple who are not shy of expressing their love for one another, as well as their faith. Their videos have a positive, feel-good vibe to them that uplifts you even when you’re feeling down. They mostly discuss their relationship, while engaging in light-hearted activities like pranks, shopping expeditions and picnics.

15. Joy Kendi

Joy Kendi

Joy is another Youtuber who’s been very consistent with content creation. She’s been at it for 8 years now and has a solid following on social media. She’s a lifestyle and fashion blogger based in Kenya, though she grew up in the US. In 2015, one of her Instagram posts was featured on the Wendy Williams Show, which proved that she has a global fashion appeal.

Apart from fashion, Kendi is also interested in travelling.

14. Four French Fries

Four French Fries

The Four French Fries are an expatriate family living in Nairobi. Composed of a couple and their two sons, they mostly record themselves doing normal everyday stuff like exploring nature. Judging by the other videos they shot of their adventures in Malaysia, they seem to make the best of every country they live in.

13. Chef Raphael

Chef Raphael

This is the second cooking channel on this list. Chef Raphael is on a mission to give you simple recipes for tasty meals you can prepare at home. His 32,000 subscribers show that the cooking niche is very popular in Kenya.

12. Cooking With Suad

Cooking with Suad

This is yet another popular food channel. Suad shares recipes for tasty dishes like pilau, mandazi, bajiya, fried fish, and spicy masala. With over three million total views, she’s obviously doing something right.

11. The Green Calabash

The Green Calabash

This channel is run by a couple who document the ups and downs they encounter. The family consists of Shiko, her husband Rama, and their two kids Ella and Lamu. The Green Calabash started as blog in 2010 and transitioned to Youtube in 2015. It must be one of the most consistent channels in the country because videos is posted twice every week.

The couple seems to be very passionate about parenting. Most Youtubers start channels only because they have nothing better to do, only to later abandon them.

10. Jikoni Magic

Jikoni Magic

This food channel gives you recipes for some of Kenya’s most popular dishes. The meals featured on the channel range from mutura (Kenyan sausage) to crispy chicken wings. The channel tries hard to post videos that all Kenyans can relate to.

9. Nancie Mwai

Nancie Mwai

Nancie Mwai is one of those visionary influencers who started using social media waay before it became the in thing. In fact, most younger Youtubers credit her as their role model and mentor. Unlike other early personalities who got bored with Youtube, she has consistently built her online brand.

She’s also known for collaborating with other influencers such as Mandi Sarro, Maxine Wabosha, This is Ess, and Sheila Ndunda. Although known for her beauty tutorials, she also covers lifestyle and travel.

8. Sonal Maherali

Sonal Maherali

This lady made headlines a while back when she allegedly spent $16,000 (Shs 1.6 million) on a Birkin bag. Known for her expensive taste, she owns extensive collections of some of the most luxurious fashion items, such as Christian Louboutin shoes and Hermes bags. She sources her fashion accessories from Milan, Paris, London and Dubai.

She recently set new standards in the Kenyan vlogging scene when she had a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes made especially for her.

7. Farhana Oberson

Farhana Oberson

Farhana is apparently a Muslim name that means “Happy, joyful, cheerful”. It’s a fitting name because Farhana Oberson’s channel emits heartwarming vibes. Her vlog is unique in the sense that she’s based at the coast, so most of her content is produced in Mombasa and Lamu. She also travels to other countries like Zambia and Tanzania, and likes showcasing some hidden gems as far as tourism is concerned.

6. Craving Yellow

Tabitha

This channel is a little different from the other beauty focused channels. Although Tabitha posts a lot of videos about styling natural hair, she also addresses other issues that connect with her fans. Having lived abroad for a long time, she’s also able to give more than one perspective on most topics. She has a huge following not just in Kenya but with Africans living abroad as well.

5. Sheila Ndinda

Sheila Ndinda

Sheila is a veteran of the “natural hair styling” niche. She shows you easy and very affordable ways of making your hair fashionable. Other than fashion, her channel also covers travel and lifestyle.

4. Joanna Kinuthia

Joanna Kinuthia

This is one Youtuber who seems to have made a somewhat smooth transition from college to making a comfortable living as an influencer. Most honest people will tell you that YouTube ad dollars aren’t enough to earn you a decent income. Joanna has made a good job of leveraging her social media presence to include digital and affiliate marketing as new revenue streams.

3. Wabosha Maxine

Maxine Wabosha

Apart from running one of the most popular Youtube channels in Kenya, Maxine also happens to be an engineering student at the University of Nairobi. Talk about beauty and brains! Her channel focuses heavily on make-up tutorials, though she also posts some travel and lifestyle videos.

2. Mapishi Rahisi

Mapishi Rahisi

Mapishi Rahisi translates to “easy cooking”. The channel seems to be doing everything right, because it’s the biggest cooking channel in Kenya, as well as the third most popular in this list. As the channel’s name suggests, the recipes posted are easy to follow. The fact that the channel is just hitting the one year mark and already has 87,000 subscribers is proof that food is a big niche on YouTube.

1. Dr. Mumbi Show

Dr. Mumbi


With more than 119,000 subscribers, this is arguably Kenya’s biggest Youtube channel. Dr. Mumbi has a passion for discussing pan-African affairs. In most of her videos she urges Africans to come up with home grown solutions to their problems instead of waiting for “saviors” from the west and Asia (China specifically). I guess this is one of the reasons why her channel is so popular, because her message appeals to thousands of people not just in Kenya but the entire continent.

Conclusion

There you have it, my list of Kenya’s biggest Youtubers. From this, it’s clear that:

  • Ladies are more likely to have popular Youtube channels.
  • Fashion, beauty, cooking, gossip, travel and lifestyle are popular themes.
  • Consistency, a warm personality, genuine interaction with subscribers, and collaborations with fellow Youtubers play a role in growing your channel.

Unfortunately, Youtube doesn’t provide a list of the most popular channels by country, so I had to use a third party website. I don’t trust the channel crawler 100% though, because it didn’t give me accurate results every time I did a search. For example, it failed to show Joanna Kinuthia, even though she has more than 70,000 subscribers.

For this reason, there might be other popular youtubers out there that didn’t show up. If you know of any that deserve to be in the list, tell me in the comments section. What I did was pick people with the most subscribers, because it’s harder to gain subscribers than get video views.

Like I said at the beginning, I also deliberately ommitted already popular personalities like TV and radio presenters, comedians, musicians and politicians. This is why you don’t see “the usual suspects” such as Churchill show, This is Ess, Janet Mbugua, Henry DeSagu, Caroline Mutoko, Akothee, and Mandi Sarro.

If you’re looking to start a YouTube channel, grow one or take advantage of new opportunities with your existing channel, I hope these Kenyan youtubers have motivated you to put more effort into it.

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