There are two things one can expect to find on a trip to meet Kenya’s most prolific gossip vlogger at a restaurant; a Macbook Pro on the table and rapid-fire answers shooting right back at you, revealing Edgar Obare’s natural instinct to find a story.
Obare, the founder of Edgar Obare the YouTube channel and a USIU master’s degree graduate, is a rarity in today’s world; the self-proclaimed ‘Truthseeker and Storyteller’ has made his name by outing Kenyan celebrities’ secrets, scandals and believe it or not, actual, honest, journalism.
Mercy Kavutha caught up with Edgar to learn the art of vlogging about Kenya’s elite.
Some people term news as discovering and exposing something that someone doesn't want to be known. What do you think about that?
I think the basis of such a statement is the fact that there is always a bigger picture and a true journalist aims for that, no matter what.
So what do you call what you do?
I am a storyteller. I tell stories about people and my channel has a lot of different kinds of investigative content dealing with issues in society, not just celebrities.
You started as a videographer. What turned the tide for you?
I started by documenting my adventures on Instagram and that gained a lot of traction with my followers, but Instagram had that 15 second limit on stories so I took my art to YouTube and things were never the same! But it got heated up when I posted the story on Natalie Tewa.
Controversy is your language…have you suffered for that?
Yup. Currently dealing with an ongoing situation right now that I can’t speak of. I learned to involve lawyers in everything. For example, the story on Terrence Creative, I talked to a lawyer before every episode. Some people do not like what I say but it’s part of the job and I have accepted that.
How would you describe the power of your vlog?
There is trust between my audience and I, and that says a lot in terms of power.
You revealed that you openly invite people to ‘pitch’ you interesting stories to talk about. Are there some stories that are too vile to even report?
Sometimes people come to me with stories to settle personal scores which is not okay. I also don’t vlog anything to do with children.
Do you have celebrities who will not talk to you no matter what you do or say, simply because of what you do?
Surprisingly, no! But they are always my friends until they are in the hot seat and suddenly start saying they can't stand me.
Why do you think we're obsessed with celebrity scandals?
It’s entertaining and it makes for good table talk and debates. I'm happy to oblige.
How do you really get all your gossip?
I'm a one-man team, so my sources are people who follow me. Like, a follower may come to me with receipts on a thing they saw a certain celebrity doing and, if it’s important, I do my own research then roll with it. I'm the mouthpiece but its Kenyans who do the important part. I don’t have people following celebrities.
What are you most grateful for in this experience?
The opportunity to impact people's lives positively. I have a lot of people coming up to me telling me how my vlog helped them in their own investigations or opened their eyes to certain situations.
Have you thought about being a bit less ‘brutal’ in the exposes?
Legally, yes. I have been advised to chill, especially when it comes to big personalities, but I love what I do and I do it because Kenyans deserve a truth-seeker for once. I don't even make a lot of money!
In matters of success, what lessons did you learn that shot you to the top of the charts, leaving many established magazines in the dust?
It's my ability to back my claims with evidence and that is surprisingly rare.
What makes you the happiest? All kinds of chicken.
Which living person do you admire the most and why? No particular person but Mandela is up there.
What was your most embarrassing moment? I don’t get embarrassed. (Laughs). But this time I was publicly shamed in high school for ranting and writing slurs on our schools’ Facebook page. I was forced to read out loud what I wrote and had the living daylights slapped out of me by the principal.
Property aside, what’s the most expensive item you’ve ever bought? I’m not materialistic but my MacBook Pro was pretty costly.
How do you relax? Movies. My favourite is The Avengers.