How Kili And Neema, Maasai TikTokers Became Internet Sensation

by Duke Magazine

The Maasai, whose large land has been taken over by some of Kenya’s game reserves, now occupy a much smaller area in the Kajiado and Narok districts, which are one of Africa’s most popular and unique ethnic groups due to their long maintained culture.

The Maasai are one of East Africa’s most well-known tourist attractions, although accounting for only approximately 0.7 percent of Kenya’s population and a comparable amount in Tanzania. This is due in significant part to their distinct culture, attire, and landscape. They are frequently clothed in red sheets, also known as shuka, which is wrapped around the body and adorned with a plethora of beaded jewelry around the neck and arms.

The Maasai have enormous herds of cattle on which they rely for both sustenance and income. The majority of them engage in nomadic pastoralism, while others work in the tourism industry, showcasing their culture to visitors.

Kili and Neema Paul, two Maasai brothers from Mindu Tulieni, a small town in Tanzania’s eastern Pwani region, have become TikTok stars, stealing the hearts of people on the platform, particularly those from India and Bollywood. The twins have TikTok videos that show them lip-syncing and dancing to some of Bollywood’s most well-known songs in Hindi.

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They record their videos on a smartphone. And, because he lives in a remote Tanzanian village without electricity, Kili travels to the next town, Lugoba, every day to charge his phone. Kili, 26, frequently stands beside his sister Neema, 23, as they record TikTok videos.

They began filming the videos for fun and had no idea they would go popular, particularly in India. “… I was astounded when I first saw the number of views and replies from people in India. Kili was quoted by the BBC as saying, “My mind was blown.”

His videos were inspired by his love of Bollywood films, he claimed. He stated he viewed a lot of Bollywood movies in local cinemas while in school in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital. He has trained himself to sing in Hindi, even though he does not speak the language. Neema, his sister, has done the same. Kili claims that learning the lyrics and practicing the song takes him a few days. He also researches the meaning of the songs in English so that he can use the appropriate language while interacting with the music.

And he used to do his TikTok videos by himself. He invited his sister to join him because he knows she enjoys Bollywood as well. Neema first declined to join him because she was too nervous to appear in front of the camera, but she became accustomed to it over time, and the two are now well-known TikTok stars not only in their home nation but throughout the world, notably in India. As a result, in addition to herding cattle and farming, the two have been interviewed by a slew of Indian television and radio stations, according to the BBC.

In just a few days after it was posted by the film’s principal actors, their most popular video, a performance of Raataan Lambiyan from the current Bollywood film Shershaah, was viewed over a million times.

Surprisingly, neither the twins’ relatives nor the residents in their community were aware that they had become international celebrities. When journalists with television crews began arriving in the area, almost everyone was perplexed.

“At first, my family was perplexed as to why I was singing and dancing rather than tending to the cows. According to the BBC, Kili added, “Now they are starting to see that I am doing something positive.”

His verified TikTok account, which he began after hearing about it from friends around a year ago, currently has over 1.8 million followers. Neema, his younger sister, also has an Instagram account with nearly 65,000 followers. Even though their videos have yet to earn money, the two are expecting offers from Bollywood. Local Indian media stated in December that the two may soon star in their respective flicks.

“Being from a little village outside of town, I never imagined my aspirations of being an actor and being in front of the camera would come true.” “I just carried that in my heart,” Neema told the BBC at the time. “To be able to travel to India would be incredible.”

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