On October 15, 2015, when Zambian student Kondwani Sichinga sat down in his room and recorded a video, he wasn’t expecting to change the world. He tentatively looked over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t disturbing anyone, and then looked into the camera. “I will be attempting the longest yeah boy … ever,” he told his viewers. “I will fail, just so you know.”
He took a deep breath, and with a mighty wind, let out an emphatic “Yeah boy!”, the phrase lasting nearly 30 seconds before he ran out of breath.
It was — as he put it in the title of the video — his longest “yeah boy” ever.
Kondwani posted the video to YouTube, where it sat mostly unwatched until this March, when someone posted it on the YouTube-curiosities subreddit Deep Into YouTube. The video racked up nearly 1,400 upvotes, and its title and thumbnail began their journey to meme status.
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes the video so charming: Maybe it’s the fact that Kondwani is alone, quiet, and tired, making sure the coast is clear until he belts out the “yeah boy.” Maybe it’s the drink he keeps close by, just in case (just in case … what?). Maybe it’s the way he raises his fist and begins to convulse as he runs out of air. Maybe it’s simply the idea that saying “yeah boy” with one a single, uninterrupted breath is a personal test that needs to be quantified and tracked. Maybe it’s the fact that Kondwani has a wonderfully expressive face. Maybe it’s that the phrase “My longest yeah boy ever” has transcendent, language-surpassing beauty of the kind often attributed to “cellar door.”
Regardless, the video struck a particular nerve. On YouTube, Kondwani’s inspiring feat led to a number of remixes. There’s also a ten-hour version of the “yeah boy.”
Kondwani, whom I tracked down this week over Facebook, is a student at Baobab College in Zambia. He is not, he told me, a die-hard fan of Flavor Flav, the Public Enemy rapper and reality-TV star who coined the phrase. He made the video simply because he was bored. “I never expected it to get this huge,” he said. Part of the reason, he says, is because late in the “yeah boy” audio distortion makes him sound like a fly.
But his longest “yeah boy” ever is now worldwide, edging up on nearly five million views. “I’ve seen the remixes and I’m quite proud I started something like this,” he added. Screenshots of the video have gone viral on social media, where “my longest yeah boy ever” has, as a phrase, become the digital equivalent of a fist pump. It’s no longer enough to say “yeah boy” — it has to be your longest ever. Every triumph deserves your longest “yeah boy” ever, and you need to let them know.
In the late summer, views of the video started spiking drastically as the video began circulating everywhere, adopted by fandoms on Tumblr and Twitter. According to YouTube’s statistics, we’ve spent a collective ten years watching this very long “yeah boy.” The video’s title is now a meme standard, representing a kind of joy or passion or particularly impressive accomplishment.
Others have made attempts at breaking Kondwani’s “yeah boy” record. Asked if he would ever attempt a longer “yeah boy,” Kondwani promised “Yes I will try and break [my record] but not right now.”
For now, he’s just happy to have given something to the world. And the phenomenon has gotten him some notoriety with his peers as well. “When I walk around school,” Kondwani shared, “they say ‘yeah boy’ and I laugh to myself.”