I have found that it is close to extremely impossible to find a gif that is culturally relevant to your specific context if you are not from the US and/or white.
This is owing to the fact that gif databases are mainly owned by big companies like Google and Facebook. And the main contributors to these platforms upload content that is specific to their contexts. This tends to be leaning towards white, cishet, and male content.
We find ourselves using gifs that originate from the US’s popular shows because of global influence and essentially cultural imperialism that is accelerated by the digital age. Beside that, we don’t have enough or diverse databases. So, it is immensely difficult to find local gif content due to the lack of mainstream databases.
Gowisha, Nollybabes, NollywoodRoll and YungNollywood stand as pioneers because they have managed to create and share African memes and gifs to Africans and the world through social media. Subsequently, creating archives of current and historical moments in pop culture.
Not only does this bring a sense of nostalgia but also a shared sense of meaning for us Africans in a space full of Western content.
The idea of creating memes and gifs from popular shows is slowly growing in South Africa and this is evident in media personality and businesswoman Bonang Matheba’s reality show Being Bonang generating iconic memes and gifs throughout its three seasons.
With South African popular culture slowly maturing, memes and gifs will be our point of reference for iconic television and now even YouTube moments.
With the rise of cultural imperialism, Afrocentric databases serve as important libraries for future creatives. This is why we need to create and redistribute gifs and memes that are uniquely African to mainstream platforms.
But I argue that it’s much better that we create our databases because local content often drowns in the global space. If that proves to be difficult, we can rather move towards making more use of platforms like Gowisha and keep them up-to-date with relevant content.
With the significance of meme and gif culture in the world right now. Media marketers should be creating and making gifs from popular shows.
Social media is an extension of our reality and we need to start creating and producing content that is for us by us.