Clifford Owusu is a Ghanaian comedian, entertainer, and YouTube sensation whose dancing, humor, and positivity have won over African and non-African viewers alike. A firm believer in the ability of dancing to bring people together, he infuses his videos with elements of his culture that include music, comedy, and an African dad impersonation that’s so accurate it feels familiar.
Below is an edited and condensed version of his interview with Hannah Giorgis for Okayafrica.
When did you first start making videos and what inspired you?
Around 2007. I had just graduated from college. My friends and I used to post videos on Facebook all the time, we used to do a lot of dancing to music. Then in 2007, my friend recorded me dancing to my ring tone and posted on Youtube, and it went off.
Honestly, I really do enjoy just making people happy—that’s really it, no other motive. That’s what inspires me. I like to see people smile. Do you know how powerful a person is that can people smile? They can get whatever they want. If my girlfriend has a guy friend who’s really funny, I would tell her she can’t be friends with him anymore because he could steal her heart at any moment.
You make a lot of videos about being an African in the US. Where on the continent is your family from? What do you think is unique about the experience of being African in America?
My family is from Ghana and I came to the US when I was 6. Back in junior high, being African was one of those things people I was growing up with weren’t proud of. People made a lot of jokes about us—everything you can think of. There was no honor, it wasn’t something to be happy about. A lot of people tried to adapt to the culture here, but I couldn’t because my parents were so African that there was nothing I could do to hide it.
Fast forward to now: now everybody loves Africans. At the age I’m at right now, for me there is no better feeling than being African. I love the culture. I feel very connected to it even though I’m not back home. My home right is still filled with my culture because my parents never took me out of it. It’s a blessing to be in touch with my culture.
What has the response to your videos been like outside your family, in your broader community?
When I first started this, everyone looked at me like I was stupid and what I was doing was foolish. One thing that I always tell young adults who are trying to do something outside of what “normal” people do is that when people tell you you’re too confident or too cocky, tell them “yes and thank you.” That’s because my confidence level is the reason why I kept doing what I was doing—because I kept believing in myself. I believed in myself so much so that when people told me I couldn’t do this, I just would say okay and keep going anyway.
Sometimes it feels like your friends and family are not going to support you until strangers do. Then everyone will. People in church used to tell me to stop all the time. Now everyone who used to tell me to stop is telling me keep doing it, you’re doing it well. When I was featured on Good Morning America, that’s when everyone was like “OMG.” now everyone is like “God will bless you.” There was nothing anyone could tell me that could stop me; this was a hobby I really loved. The same way someone else might go play basketball as a hobby–for me, making videos was my downtime. Now I’m in a good place. Everyone is supportive.
What should we expect from you in the future?
I can’t give away the big stuff but I will continue doing what I’m doing. It’s just going to be on a bigger stage. Every day it gets better and better, and the thing is…I know it’s destined to happen. All I need the most is for people to support me and keep me in their prayers and heart, and I promise I will never ever change when it comes to my culture, I will never have anything but the utmost respect for African culture—even on the moon my heart will still bleed red, green and black. That’s the African colors right?
(Courtesy of Hannah Giorgis: http://www.okayafrica.com/news/clifford-owusu-ghanaian-youtube-star/)