Ubunifu Space – a London-based online platform and definitive guide to music and culture from the youth of Africa and the diaspora, on Monday 21st December 2020 released the first and second episodes of their 8-part documentary series #UBUNTOUR which offers a glimpse into the African Pop Culture through their travel in Kenya and South Africa.
The popular online platform which was launched in 2017 was founded by Five friends – Bryan, Monique, Shay, David and Ian– who would watch videos by artists from the African continent and the diaspora, and film their reactions, all from the comfort of Bryan’s front room.
It didn’t take long for the channel to gain momentum. In celebrating the twin energies of young British Black musicians and dynamic rising musical voices in Africa and the diaspora, they tapped into a shared musical consciousness and a genuine human connection. A quarter of a million subscribers and over 40 million YouTube views later and the Ubunifu Space is without doubt a cultural powerhouse.
Their reaction videos have become a sought-after tool for artists trying to gain exposure with new music; they recently launched a regular show on the country’s fastest-rising radio station, No Signal and they are launching their biggest project to date – a longform video series documenting their recent tour of South Africa and Kenya.
“The reception we have received on the internet has been heart-warming, and we felt it was time to experience the cultural importance and meaning behind the music we showcase”,Ian
#UBUONTOUR sees the stars of the channel fly to South Africa and Kenya in late November, through December, sparking the beginning of their summertime and the most popular time of the year.
“We wanted to create a full circle,” says the Space’s founder Bryan Obonyo, “We’d learned a lot from watching videos but we wanted to fly out. Experience the music, the culture and interact with the artists and followers who share our enthusiasm.”
The film shows the five friends interacting with their fans on the continent for the first time – moments which amplify just how much their channel has resonated.
“Obviously you have Instagram and YouTube comments but there were people crying when they saw us!” Monique Touko reflects,“It’s all a bit mad really.”
The first acts of the drama began on Monday 21st December 2020, with the release of episodes 1 and 2 covering their first few days in Johannesburg, with visits to Vilakazi Street, Maboneng, Zone 6 club in Soweto and the exhilarating Sunday Roast. Monday 28th December they gave fans further content to seek their teeth into, with the release of Episodes 3 and Monday 4th January Episode 4 following their visit to Cape Town involving visits to the landmark Table Mountain, Gugulethu township, Saint Club and more, bringing their cultural exchange to life.
The fifth episode in the saga on Monday 11th January sees the five-strong band head to Gqom capital Durban dropping before exploring the exotic lost city of Sun City in episode 6 to be released Monday 18th January 2021. The dust doesn’t ever seem to settle, as the group return to Johannesburg for episode 7 which includes their meet and greet, reaching our screens on Monday 25th January 2021. The #UBUONTOUR series comes to a close in episode 8, where the collective jet off to Nairobi, Kenya for the final leg of their journey, ready for viewing on Monday 1st February 2021.
For longtime fans of the Space, the documentary will be the first time the five friends are seen outside of Bryan’s living room. From an early morning flight at Heathrow right through to hazy cab rides home in Johannesburg, it’s an all-access pass to five friends living out a unique journey.
“A lot of the time people see us reacting but don’t see us as individuals” Monique States.
As well as their legions of subscribers and fans, the documentary also brings The Ubunifu Space closer to the artists who they’ve been watching online for years. The likes of hit-making Riky Rick, Ghetts-collaborator Moonchild Sanelly, Cassper Nyovest, Busiswa, Sho Madjozi and the names go on.
“It almost felt like finally meeting a long lost friend because we are so used to reacting to their videos and communicating with them from overseas so it felt really good to finally meet & vibe with them.” David says.
The documentary is set to give audiences a guided tour of some of the region’s brightest stars.
They also caught the first official summer of Amapiano – a gorgeous, infectious party sound which was born in townships and is fast blooming into an international phenomenon making mainstream inroads.
“Amapiano was having its first summer as the genre,” says Bryan, “We were immersed in it – seeing people release sounds there and then. It’s something that can’t be replicated.”
Beyond the late nights and heavy beats, #UBUONTOUR captures five young people on a personal journey. Self-described “Diaspora children” connecting with historic land and seeing firsthand what happens when a simple idea connects music fans who are 6,000 miles apart. Reflecting on the trip,
Shay says “It was surreal, I couldn’t believe it and till this day I’m in shock. The culture in both countries blew me away and I honestly felt like I was at home. South Africa and Kenya remain close to my heart and I learnt and felt so much out there, can’t wait to return“.
For the Space’s founder, this milestone is confirmation of the Ubunifu mission. “Not every reaction channel has the goal of creating a cultural footprint,” Bryan says, reflecting on the documentary,
“This showed us that what we’re doing is very impactful. This isn’t just a reaction video platform. We really can draw links and connections between ourselves and our brothers and sisters in the continent. This is a platform that represents that and showcases those stories.”
View the #UbuOnTour 1st and 2nd Trailer below;