White Twitter provides ammo for Coconut Kelz's satirical YouTube skits

Using a fictional character called Coconut Kelz and a camera phone, Lesego Tlhabi makes serious points by poking fun at racial insensitivity in South Africa

03 June 2018 - 00:01
Lesego Tlhabi is known as Coconut Kelz to her YouTube followers.
Lesego Tlhabi is known as Coconut Kelz to her YouTube followers.

Back in the day, getting something on television required a big budget, content that was easily digestible and the patience to wade through network bureaucracy. Thank goodness the internet was invented because now all you need is a decent camera phone and engaging content to snag tens of thousands of viewers. That's where Coconut
Kelz comes in.

Known to her mother as Lesego Tlhabi, Coconut Kelz has quickly grown from a series of YouTube inserts - satirical barbs at white folks and their idiosyncrasies - into content for a show that production companies are thirsty to turn into a television series.

We caught up with Tlhabi to find out more:

How did you come up with the Coconut Kelz persona, and what made you want to start a YouTube channel starring her?

Coconut Kelz came about as a sarcastic response to what I'd see written on people's Facebook walls. I couldn't believe there were people out there who were that ignorant. So I took their comments and said them back to viewers. I gave her a name because I'd already created an Instagram persona, which I moved onto YouTube as a result of her growing in popularity. I'd post on Facebook and get so many friend requests that I didn't want that on my personal page. YouTube separated Lesego and Kelz.

For someone unfamiliar with her, who is Coconut Kelz?

Kelz is a "coconut" (a white girl stuck inside a black body) in her early 20s. She's very opinionated, even though her opinions are mostly inaccurate to say the least. She's a die-hard Helen Zille supporter and a low-ranking member of the DA with political ambitions. She thinks black people are too obsessed with race and need to get over the past. Of course, it's a satire channel. 

WATCH | Coconut Kelz's satirical skit on the Cape Town water crisis

Do you ever get Caucasians moaning about your content?

Surprisingly, I get about one negative comment versus nine positive comments from white people. It's usually people who missed the point completely and think Kelz is a real person. I find that hilarious.

How do you pick your topics?

The great thing about satire is that the topics find me. I keep an eye out for what's happening in the news and on what's trending politically. I look at the kinds of comments that trend on white twitter or 702, and then get shooting.

How difficult is it to consistently get content out?

It's difficult to be "on" or funny in a new way consistently. Things happen in this country all the time so the content is always there. But sometimes I'm tired or we're having a slow news week. But I have noticed that you get out what you put in with a YouTube page. I use that as encouragement. Plus seeing people have such amazing reactions to Kelz is inspiring.

• Find Coconut Kelz on YouTube.