Why don’t South Africans create their own GIFs for memes?

fikile mbalula memes south africa twitter

Citizens of South Africa are no strangers to creating their own memes — from cheeky hashtags to images that ire Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, they know how to start a trend.

But despite the amount of original content, there is one thing South Africans do not have control over: the GIFs they use. Sure, GIFs are still a big part of South African Twitter, but they aren’t locally made and often make use of American content.

There are few reasons why South Africa may still rely on internationally created GIFs as opposed to their own, though, and they’re more than understandable.

Data & storage

GIFs aren’t as popular as reaction images are, and it could have to do with the data needed to upload and the space in the phone required to save. South Africa’s data prices are notoriously high — sparking movements like #DataMustFall — and uploading moving images can cost you up to R2 to post (depending on data package and out-of-bundle rates.)

The most popular phones in South Africa also top out at around 4GB of internal storage. This is little space for apps and personal images, let alone the added weight of reaction GIFs.

Lack of tools to make them

Many of the GIFs on Twitter today were made using Adobe Photoshop (and you can usually spot these from the ones who have had their colours significantly changed from the source material).

Photoshop is expensive, whether you purchase it legally or use WiFi for more dubious means. It’s also complicated and requires a good amount of time and online tutorials to understand properly. Not all of these are easily accessible to the average South African.

South Africa’s data prices are still notoriously high, and GIFs are relatively large files

Nowadays, though, you don’t need fancy software to create GIFs — just a smartphone and some apps.

Lack of online content

But it doesn’t matter how much data you have or how many apps — if the content isn’t available, there’s nothing to make in the first place.

Most of South Africa’s soapies are on YouTube, but ultra-memeable shows like Date My Family disappear into the ether once they’ve aired.

Many US shows know which moments are going to be popular online and prep GIFs to post the second the moment goes live on TV. They do this because a viral GIF means endless marketing for them at little to no cost. 

Imagine the Sunday evening Date My Family rush that included GIFs of the most ridiculous moments from the show as they happened. South African Twitter would take on a new form altogether.

South Africans have proven time and again that they have something to contribute to the world wide web at large — perhaps its time to move it to the next frontier. Just imagine the soapie reaction GIFs.

We deserve them.

Feature image: TrapaFasa via Twitter



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