Three years ago Sibu Mpanza was an avid watcher of YouTube videos. Today he’s an avid YouTuber himself, posting a video every week full of social commentary and sometimes full of fun. The very watchable clips cover topics such as the type of people you don’t need in your life, the differences between Jo’burg and Cape Town, and the endless subject of how white people view blacks and vice versa.
He was in his second year at the University of Cape Town when the bug bit, and he borrowed a camera to shoot some footage. Within a week he had 100 subscribers and plenty of favourable comments. Since that first 2014 clip his audience has grown to over 100 000 views.
In 2015 he was a top three finalist in the Samsung Social Star Competition and won the finals in Mauritius thanks to the votes and participation of his fans. Soon after that he dropped out of university to pursue a YouTube career.
The gamble paid off when he became the first runner-up in the African YouTube Awards and was asked to facilitate photography workshops in Zambia. In 2016 he was one of the top three entrants in Cell C’s #BreakTheNet competition, through his #GetSibuToLA campaign that trended on social media for three weeks. On the back of his online success he launched his own production company Mpanza Media, creating photographic and video content for brands and individuals.
He’s now 22 and working with big-name brands thanks to his YouTube fame. “I see my YouTube career blooming over the next couple of years because this is very sustainable if you’re passionate and dedicated to creating content,” he says. “Young people aren’t reading as much or even watching TV these days, they’re looking at social media for what’s hot and that’s what I am doing — social media content creation and marketing.”
He hopes to start an internet talk show and introduce a tech section and celebrity guests on his channel. “I also hope to reach 10 000 subscribers by the end of the year,” he says. “I give a voice to people who don’t feel represented in mainstream. I say things how they are and often say what everyone is thinking. I think adding humour to some serious topics helps make them relatable. I’m also representing people of colour on the internet.”
— Lesley Stones