Farhana Oberson, 23, had no idea what vlogging is all about. She was just documenting her travels and killing boredom while studying in Malaysia. That was before YouTube became the new influencer in travel.
“I was going through a difficult time in Malaysia during the second year of my studies. Then my mother encouraged me to go out and explore the Langkawi Island, film and share the videos with them back home in Kenya,” says Farhana.
She filmed different destinations in Malaysia using her iPhone 5 and as a way of keeping a personal diary, she posted them on YouTube and that is how her video blog—Rafiki Squad— became a passion and a career.
“I didn’t start it to be famous, I merely uploaded the videos to show my family back home about the trips that I would go on alone in Malaysia. However, friends started sharing my videos and that gave me the encouragement to continue sharing my adventures.”
She would upload one video every four to five months but now she posts twice every week, on Tuesday and Saturday.
Her YouTube channel now boasts 14,152 viewers and earns her some money.
For each uploaded video, she earns about $3 to $4 (Sh300 to Sh400).
Globally, YouTubers are becoming the new influencers in travel and vlogging is growing into a big business with some successful video creators earning million of shillings annually.
Farhana’s success has seen her partner with hotels such as Serena Beach Resort and Kenya Bay in marketing their resorts online.
Snapchat and Instagram have also helped her build a following and promote her travel content.
Farhana has just completed her Bachelor’s degree in business administration and she is now focusing fully on building her travel vlogging.
“I was shocked when a Saudi Arabian touring Africa sent me photos of every place I had videotaped. It was a photo of a coffee shop selling kawatungu and halua and a diner located in Old Town in Mombasa. That really amazed me,” says Farhana, adding that it inspired her to do more videos.
She has showcased Naivasha, Maasai Mara, Lamu and Mombasa destinations in her travel vlog.
She says she shoots videos of the everyday places that we go to and often take for granted. ‘‘You don’t need to go to fancy places. Some ideas just come while I am in the shower and they turn into a huge success. While shooting, I am always imagining that I am talking to my Rafiki Squad.’’
To Farhana, filming the Eid Mubarak festivities was the most electrifying experience as she got to show the way of life of people.
“I love most the Eid Mubarak and Welcome to Italy videos on my YouTube channel. In them, I not only showed the places but I was also able to tell a story of the people of the place.”
Video blogging has also enabled her to tell the story of hijabs. In a society where people believe that being a Muslim woman hinders one from discovering the modern world, she says, her parents have been supportive.
“I have been criticised a number of times but religion should not limit anyone from doing anything positive. Having a scarf (hijab) should not limit you to explore all possibilities the world has to offer. I always ignore all the comments on my wearing of a hijab and sometimes such criticism motivates me to work harder,” she says.
Her YouTube Channel won the OLX Soma Awards recently and she is looking to encourage other girls to wake up and see what the world has to offer.
“I want to make an impact while earning. I am planning on adding educative content to my channel. “I have girls who text me on the challenges they are facing and I have been their ray of hope and inspiration.’’
One of her challenges has been balancing between filming and enjoy the moment.
“Vlogging in Kenya can also be extremely hard, people think you are going to sell their videos when you film them, others simply stand and stare straight at me while I talk to the camera and others come and join in the fun by making funny faces,” she says.