/ 13 September 2008

Homeboy blogger wins big

Khaya Dlanga, one of Thought Leader’s most popular bloggers and a cult-status “vlogger” (video blogger) on YouTube, has been named winner of the “innovative use of the Internet” award at the 12th annual Highway Africa conference in Grahamstown.

“Hey, anyone can be famous for 15 minutes, I’m just having my 15,” Dlanga told the Mail & Guardian the morning after the awards dinner at the world’s biggest gathering of African journalists and new media moguls and mavericks.

The 30-year-old copywriter, based in Johannesburg though born and raised in the Eastern Cape, is a global phenomenon on YouTube, where his 117 videos ranging from “crazy to stupid” (in his words) have attracted more than three million hits.

He seems bemused by his success. “There are so many stupid ones I don’t know where to start umm, how about the one where I put a camera on my desk and filmed myself ‘running’ for four-minutes to the Chariots of Fire soundtrack? You won’t believe how many people watched it all the way through —”

Other Dlanga videos attracting huge hits on YouTube include “I quit smoking pot and cigarettes when I was 10 years old” and “I’m going to commit suicide”.

He says: “People want to see themselves and watch other people doing stuff. I guess it’s the new ego: everyone feels they have something to say, which makes six billion of us potential celebrities.”

Dlanga was invited to write for the M&G‘s own global success story, Thought Leader, by the M&G‘s former general manager of online publishing, Matthew Buckland, who had seen his YouTube videos.

His blog, In My Own Arrogant Opinion, tackles more serious themes, like politics, youth and race in South Africa; but Dlanga’s pithy style and huge personality make even the NEC sound sexy. “I get a lot of hate, a lot of hate, too,” he says. Memorably, for a YouTube video in which he went round the office asking skinny girls why they chose fat woman friends. Baby, that’s the flip side of the 15 minutes.