Alphi Mkhwanazi never dreamt of becoming social media sensation

Hosting TikTok Sama a career highlight

Masego Seemela Online journalist
TikTok sensation Alphi Mkhwanazi.
TikTok sensation Alphi Mkhwanazi.
Image: Supplied.

Hosting the TikTok red carpet at the SA Music Awards (Samas) at the weekend has been social media sensation Alphi Mkhwanazi's biggest career highlight.

The flamboyant content creator has become a household name in just under a year of being active on the short-form video platform. Being a TikTok sensation wasn’t something Mkhwanazi expected.

He claims that his funny persona stems from him covering up his shyness and insecurities, which he’s working to get rid of.  

“I had no intention of blowing up or ever thought that all of this would be happening. When I posted my first video on WhatsApp, I was sharing my thoughts…. Little did I know that people found them funny,” said the 29-year-old from Daveyton.

“A friend of mine was like: ‘Hai, maan! Your videos need to be on TikTok’, but I didn't pay attention to her until she decided to save my video and posted it on her WhatsApp. From there, her friends kept asking her about me, and that’s when I realised that I should share my content on TikTok.

“I then posted my first video 11 months ago and it blew up.”

While he has now amassed close to 430, 000 followers on TikTok in under a year, Mkhwanazi recalls being surprised at the sight of one of his videos making it on television. “I remember looking up while I was at my office desk and there I was, on television. It was such a thrilling experience," he said.

Mkhwanazi said the hardest thing about his newfound fame is having to adjust to being a brand and being unable to live as openly as he used to. He adds that his every move is carefully calculated because of his association with other brands.

“I need to be a little sensitive in the stuff that I say online and also how I carry myself. I rely on grounding myself as best as I can to ensure that I don’t let all this fame go to my head. I make sure I am as polite as possible when I get stopped at malls or shopping centres for pictures. It’s a crazy yet fun experience.”  

Mkhwanazi is the most outgoing one from his “reserved family”. He made the bold choice in March of quitting his job as the regional head of marketing and communication at the SA National Parks to pursue and monetise his presence as a content creator. He kept it a secret from his family.

“My family couldn’t care less that I’m this famous… in fact, they saw my fame coming before I saw it myself. They were expecting me to be something in the entertainment industry because I’ve always been the one who does our family PR and hosts all the family functions," Mkhwanazi said.

“Because of my knowledge of brand marketing, I’ve managed to find ways to capitalise on social media. I’ve paid attention to my paid content and what works well on my analytics, also which publications take notice – this way I can align with the right type of brands.

“This knowledge helps me a lot because I can tailor-make the right content for my followers.”  

Mkhwanazi’s biggest goal is to become the country’s leading MC  and he hopes TikTok will be the vehicle that gets him there.

“I believe I’m well on my way to this goal because there’s just so much on my calendar right now. I’m booking quite a few hosting gigs and appearances, which makes me so happy,” he said. “I intend to be at the top but I will never let go of Alphi as I go on this journey.” 

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