Siyanda Mohutsiwa is an internationally recognized satirical writer and speaker from Botswana. She created the satirical hashtag #IfAfricaWasABar that went viral in the summer of 2015. Siyanda delivered a TED talk titled “Is Africa’s Future Online?” in November 2015, and another titled “How young Africans found a voice on Twitter” in February 2016.
Began writing at the age of five, by age twelve was writing an opinion column in a national newspaper and by sixteen, was writing a blog focusing on issues such as black consciousness, economics and development, feminism, and pan-Africanism. The blog was picked up by several international radio stations, including the BBC. She is also a contributor to the Mail & Guardian, Siyanda Mohutsiwa has been a dominant voice in social media writing since at least 2014, as well as being a UNICEF Special Youth Reporter. As a part of her work in reporting on youth issues, Siyanda has participated as a featured speaker in conferences, such as the 21st International AIDS Conference held in Durban, South Africa. However, most of her writing takes place on Twitter, where she observes social media trends and engages in online community dialogue. In January 2014, she began the satirical hashtag #africannationsinhighschool, which was tagged over 50,000 times.
On July 2015, Siyanda posted a question from her personal Twitter account: “If Africa was a bar, what would your country be drinking/doing?” The question was quickly transformed into a hashtag as people all over the African continent began tweeting their responses, including the tag #IfAfricaWasABar. The hashtag was used over 61,000 times. When asked what inspired her original post, Mohutsiwa responded “I thought it would be a fun way for Africans to laugh at themselves and each other by putting geopolitics in a comedic light.” The discussion turned to another on-line media platform, TedTalks, when Mohutsiwa was invited to discuss how social media is being used to transform social conversation. She discussed that the internet has changed the way people deal with issues, their ability to criticize stereotypes, their governments, policies, and identity. Leading to a broader platform and recognition, she has discussed how social media has driven culture on her Twitter feed, which has been re-quoted as relevant commentary by mainstream international media such as The Independent, BuzzFeed, Variety and others.