Kobina Ackon, commonly known as Wode Maya, is Ghana’s first YouTuber with over a million subscribers. His channel, which creates positive African content, has garnered him followers and a fortune.
AT JUST 23 YEARS OLD, AMERICAN YOUTUBE megastar Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, has reportedly amassed over 10 billion views on his YouTube channel and has taken home a staggering $54 million in 2021 by posting hilarious and published philanthropic content.
In 2019, CNBC reported that a survey by Danish toymaker Lego found that about a third of children between the ages of eight and 12 dream of becoming a vlogger or YouTuber; The survey surveyed children in the United States, China and the United Kingdom.
But this trend has now slowly found its way into Africa. And fledgling content creators across the continent are glued to their monitors and screens to keep up with and monetize all social media action, just like their global peers.
KobinaAckon, popularly known by the nickname Wode Maya, is one such African sensation – he is Ghana’s first YouTuber to have over a million subscribers.
But Ackon never aspired to be a digital star. Actually, he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer.
He and his family had humble beginnings in the western region of Ghana, where they lived five to a room, using sacks of rice as school bags. Ackon was taught the value of humility from an early age.
After completing his secondary education in Ghana, Ackon moved to China to further his studies as an aeronautical engineer.
But contrary to what most believe, success on YouTube didn’t come overnight for him. In fact, it was a slow and steady climb full of trial-and-error tracking analysis that would lead him to the right mix of content to identify a niche that would bring him six-figure success.
However, the creation of his YouTube channel was more of a coincidence.
“I never wanted to be a YouTuber. I couldn’t travel during the holidays because I didn’t have money to go back to Ghana, so we spent our time in our dormitories. So a friend came up to me and said, “Let’s go out and make a video”. I was the main character in this video.
“After that, they gave me the video and I realized I didn’t have a USB stick or anywhere to save this video, so I decided to save it to the internet and then I saved it to YouTube,” Ackon recalls .
This video became a sensation among his friends and due to the positive feedback, Ackon decided to make another video detailing how he met his Chinese girlfriend. He got 1,000 followers, but unfortunately his subsequent efforts weren’t as successful.
“I made more comedic videos and people said you weren’t funny and they stopped watching them. But I was passionate about it, so I went ahead and started researching more on the platform. That’s when I started consuming a lot of content on YouTube and I realized I could actually become a millionaire on YouTube.”
But his eureka moment would come after he convinced his father to let him try content creation rather than tech.
“So I kept pushing and trying to make it work for two years until my dad found one of my videos and got extremely mad at me and then my mom came in and said I can do whatever I want and she will care for my father. Two weeks later, my dad gave me his blessing and told me one thing that changed the game for me. He said you speak Chinese, so why not use the Chinese language to bridge the gap between Africans and Chinese, and that was my breakthrough,” says Ackon.
He took his father’s advice and his channel grew to 8,000 subscribers. Ackon had found his niche and things were slowly picking up speed. He began making videos to help the Chinese better understand Africa and Africans, and soon he had peaked at around 100,000 subscribers.
But even then something was wrong with Ackon.
“I felt that the videos I made were attracting Africans to China, but China wasn’t my country and I’m trying to change the narrative of Africans living in China, but it still hasn’t worked. So I said to myself, “Let me come to Africa and preach to the Chinese about Africa.”
In doing so, he discovered that even Africans did not know much about other countries on the continent. In 2018 he made the decision to profile the African continent not only for Chinese people but also for Africans at home and in diaspora. He received a loan from a Chinese friend who booked him on a pan-African tour of five countries.
“When I did that, I had 50,000 people following my channel within a month. And it had taken me four years to get to 100,000 people. It showed me that a lot of people crave African content,” says Ackon.
Today, with over 1.1 million subscribers, Ackon says he rakes in between $20,000 and $50,000 a month from his YouTube channel. Most of his earnings come from YouTube advertising, as well as collecting up to $10,000 a pop to profile Africa’s brightest entrepreneurs. Along the way, he also took some priceless pearls of wisdom from them.
“African youth don’t really have mentors and during Covid I had the opportunity to spend time with African entrepreneurs and they changed my life in terms of investing and I actually started investing in 2021. I had money but it was like I was sitting in a bank and I didn’t know what to do with it because our parents taught us that if you have money you keep it in the bank, get married, buy a house and buy a car and that’s what I did. Until I met entrepreneurs and decided to invest in land, buy real estate and hire a team of about 10 people to work for me to grow the brand,” says Ackon.
His next milestone is an interview with Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, on how he built his fortune. He also wants his channel to only bring positive African stories out into the world. He certainly has the world’s attention right now.