Nowadays, being an influencer on Instagram is a viable career path. According to Business of Apps, Kenya leads African countries Instagram penetration: 69% of internet users aged 16 – 64 in Kenya are active on Instagram. More businesses continue to advertise on Instagram and a good portion of this money goes to influencers.
This article looks at the top ten most followed Instagram accounts owned by Kenyans as of May 2020. Collectively, they have 32.5 million followers. All of them are celebrities who have made their name outside Instagram. We look at what they post and why their Instagram accounts are so popular.
1. Lupita Nyong’o – 9M
Lupita is an Oscar Award winner, which is her main flex. It is no wonder that she has almost thrice as many followers as the next person on this list. She is much beloved in Kenya, as we are proud of her and her achievements as an actor. However, she also gets a huge following from her international audience, both from the rest of Africa and the rest of the world.
Lupita’s account is dedicated to documenting her awesome life as an international celebrity. She posts photos of herself, her friends, events that she attends, videos of projects she’s working on and causes that she believes in. Her posts get hundreds of thousands of likes and views, with her most popular posts getting more than half a million views in a few days.
2. Eric Omondi – 3.4M
Eric Omondi rose to fame during his time on Churchill’s NTV show. Since then, he has gone on to become the leading figure in Kenya’s comedy industry. He has been challenging norms, including through the way he dresses and his pioneering shows like Wife Material. He has also been working to extend his brand beyond Kenya and into the rest of Africa. He has had multiple shows in Tanzania, where he has shared podiums with Diamond Platinumz, the king of music in East Africa.
He also won a continental award for best comedian, which he used to give himself the title of “President of Comedy Africa.” Eric Omondi’s East African following has gotten him to the second position on this list.
Most of Eric’s posts are photos of himself, photos and videos of activities done to promote brands that he is in partnership with and content aimed at promoting his projects, such as Wife Material. His massive following has earned him dozens of endorsements. His posts consistently get more than 100,000 views in just a few days.
3. Tanasha Donna – 3.1M
Most of us first learnt of Tanasha when she was involved with Diamond, her baby daddy. Gere, a song that they did together, was a launchpad for Tanasha’s music career. She has since gone on to produce songs that have been received well. Diamond Platnumz is far beyond most other East African musicians in the way that he does his music and that’s one thing that Tanasha got from him.
Her music videos can be said to be the most professionally done in Kenya and consistently get more than a million views on YouTube. Her successful music career and beauty are the main factors in Tanasha Donna’s popularity. Also, she has a sizeable following in Tanzania, which has given her an edge and propelled her to number 3 on this list. She mostly posts photos of her stunning self on her Instagram account.
4. Bahati – 2.7M
Since Bahati came into the public limelight as a gospel musician, he has had a dynamic and interesting relationship with Kenyans. When he released his first songs including “Mama” about a decade ago, we all fell for him. However, over the years, he has been the subject of considerable backlash over his collaborations with secular artists and his relationship with Diana Bahati.
Even at the height of public ridicule directed towards him, there was always a huge percentage of the public who loved him. Bahati has over the years continued to give Kenyans good music and judging from this list, is the most popular musician in Kenya. His arch-nemesis, Willy Paul, has 1.9M followers and doesn’t make it to this list. Bahati’s reality show, on which he shares his life and that of his 6 member family, has probably helped with his popularity. His instagram account is dedicated to documenting his life as a star and promoting his music.
4. Betty Kyallo – 2.7M
Kenyans fell in love with Betty on television. According to the numbers on Instagram, she is the most popular television personality in Kenya. Her Upclose with Betty series on K24 helped grow her public profile as she interacted up-close with the who’s who of the country. She is the CEO of Flair By Betty and currently co-hosts The Big Quiz Show on KTN with Eric Omondi.
Betty uses her Instagram channel to post photos of her time with her daughter, her time at the gym and some of her work in media. She basically uses the account to document her life. She also uses it to promote Flair By Betty and other brands that she is working with.
4. Akothee Kenya – 2.7M
Akothee is a remarkable individual by all standards. We featured her in our list of Kenyan super moms on Mother’s Day. She is an accomplished musician, having collaborated with high profile names in Africa, including Diamond and Flavour. She is also a successful business lady and is the CEO of Akothee tours. Her international collaborations have earned her some following outside the country, which has contributed to her massive following on Instagram.
Akothee is very open about her life and has shared a lot of her experiences, something that her audience loves. She is relatable. And since she has gone against significant challenges in her journey to the top, she gives people hope that they too can make it despite their humble beginnings. Akothee uses her Instagram account to connect with her followers. She starts discussions by asking questions, gives advice and shares her own experiences.
7. Elsa Majimbo – 2.3M
Elsa Majimbo, aged 19, is the youngest person on this list. She topped our most remarkable young Kenyans list. She is the youngest most followed Kenyan. Elsa’s Instagram story is made even more remarkable by the fact that she had 7,000 followers at the start of the corona virus pandemic. During the pandemic, she blew up. Majority of Elsa’s followers are foreign. South Africans and Americans fell in love with her funny videos and she became a big deal internationally. Locally, we only started finding her funny when we realized that she makes the likes of Rihanna laugh.
Hardly any of Elsa’s posts is in Swahili. They are all in English. She began using her Instagram live to interview worldwide celebrities, the most notable being Usain Bolt. Most of her posts are videos of her being internationally funny. She also makes a lot of posts that show off her good life and her relationships with international celebrities. After all, she is a self proclaimed professional bragger as it says on her bio. She has probably the best engagement on this list. Her most popular videos have gotten more than 500,000 views with some of them even approaching a million.
8. Jalang’o – 2.3M
32 year Jalang’o is one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. He started out in comedy and has been evolving over the years. At some point, he became a radio presenter and hosts a show on Kiss FM alongside Kamene Goro. At the beginning of the pandemic, Jalang’o was at the forefront of the charge to take full advantage of the internet and social media. He started Jalang’o TV, which has been doing very well.
Jalango’s evolution is not over. He plans to follow in the footsteps of former musician Jaguar. He recently declared his intentions to run for Lang’ata MP in 2022 and seemed pretty confident that he will clinch the seat. Jalang’o has always been funny, which has earned him quite a following. In addition, he is diverse. The fact that he is only the second local based comedian on this list, having beaten others like Njugush and Churchill says a lot.
9. Churchill Ndambuki – 2.2M
Churchill is a legend. Most of the younger generation considers him the father of comedy in Kenya. His show on NTV has introduced us to dozens of comedians, a good number of whom have used the show as a platform to launch extremely successful careers. Eric Omondi is probably the biggest of the products of Churchill Show but there are numerous others like MCA Tricky, Sleepy David and Dr. Ofweneke.
Apart from making us laugh, Churchill has used his show on NTV to appreciate Kenyans who’ve done remarkable things. Getting interviewed on this guy’s show basically means that you have made it. One of the most recent interviewees was Yasmeen Saiedi who has become popular for her role as Maria on Citizen Tv. Over the last decade, some of the most important conversations in our society have been held on the Churchill Show and it’s no wonder that Daniel Ndambuki appears on this list. It can be said that if everyone in Kenya had a smartphone and was on Instagram, Churchill would be even higher up on this list.
10. Huddah Monroe – 2.1M
Whether the word “socialite” has positive or negative connotations to you, it’s difficult to think about Huddah without thinking of that “s” word. And she has been really good at it. Her socialite nemesis, Vera, has 100,000 less followers and did not make it into this list. Huddah made a name for herself then went to live in Dubai. From her Instagram feed, she seems to be doing really well there.
Over the years, she has launched Huddah cosmetics and Huddah clothing, which seem to be doing well. She uses her account mainly to promote these businesses. She also flaunts her high life in Dubai. Her photos regularly get tens of thousands of likes.
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