YouTube star rises for young Capetonian vlogger


Vlogger Mark Fitzgibbon makes videos about a subject close to his heart – his community on the Cape Flats. The UCT student’s language is certainly not suitable for work, but he brings laughs to his many followers, and is earning growing fame and fortune for himself.

 mark_fitzgibbon_youtube_article  Mark Fitzgibbon, a student in Cape Town is making name for himself on YouTube by “educating” his fans on Cape coloureds. (Image: Screen grab via YouTube)

Young South Africans pushed to take a stand
Beading and computer programming a way out of prison
South Africa’s born-frees talk about life
Recollections of 16 June 1976
Teen campaigns organ donation through social media

Publishing Media Club South Africa stories - click here

Melissa Javan

He sees his vlog as an online CV and hopes that someday he will get a job offer from Good Hope FM or Heart FM. At 21, Mark Fitzgibbon is making a name for himself on YouTube with his vlogs about the Cape coloured community – and insights into student life, gossip, consumerism and more, all with strong Afrikaans slang that’s as colourful as it’s not suitable for work.

Originally from Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats, Fitzgibbon later moved to Parow Valley. He is currently a fourth-year student at the University of Cape Town, reading applied biology, ecology and evolution. Science is his biggest passion, he says. “Vlogging comes in at a close second.”

A video blog or video log, shortened to vlog, is an increasingly popular form of web television that, on sites such as YouTube, also help the vlogger earn an income.

A friend introduced him to YouTube vloggers in 2013, Fitzgibbon says. “Up until then I thought YouTube was only about music videos and funny cats playing the piano. I was immediately hooked and started watching vlogs every week. I found them enjoyable, but they were not very relatable to me as a South African.

“The popular channels all belonged to American and British people. I thought that making a South African one would be interesting and relevant to many others like me who enjoy watching vlogs but would relate to more South African language and culture.”

And his friend encouraged him: “He said ‘Mark, you have so much stuff to say about the Cape coloured people. You should totally start a YouTube channel!’ I thought this was a brilliant idea … I was bored one afternoon and thought ‘Okay, today is the day!’ My first video got about 200 views in the first day – which was a lot for a South African back then – so I continued and remained consistent until today.”

So far, Fitzgibbon has made over 100 videos and has more than 8 000 subscribers to his channel.

Note that this video contains language that some may find offensive, and is not suitable for work. Watch at your own discretion.

His themes

His videos are about his community – Cape coloured people, their slang and their mannerisms. “The stories we tell and the way we explain it, makes us special,” says Fitzgibbon. “We are people who say it like it is. The manner and the way we talk are so funny and not a lot of people know of this. I want to get it out there.”

Inspiration comes from his friends and family in Mitchells Plain. His audience is mostly this very community, although he says his videos are well-known among whites as well. “It educates them,” he laughs.

He chooses topics by keeping an eye on social media. “Usually I go to Twitter and look at the tweets my audience sends me. They usually ask me questions or bring up topics that they would like me to speak about,” he says.

“Recently I have enjoyed speaking about elements from my childhood years as a Capetonian.”

Note that this video contains language that some may find offensive, and is not suitable for work. Watch at your own discretion.

Negative comments

Fitzgibbon says the worst part of having a YouTube channel is that controversial topics are met with negativity or contrasting opinions. “I usually read all of the negative comments I get; some of them are actually helpful.

“When someone disses my lighting, video quality or speaking ability, this usually means I need to up my game. Yet I do get some very horrible comments.”

Fitzgibbon told Son, a local newspaper, In the beginning his mother didn’t like his videos, he explains, especially as he uses the word “tief” (coloured slang for “bitch”) in all of them. “She said I must stop making these videos, because it is vulgar. Then she would say: ‘Mark, did you have to say that again?'”

But she supports him now, because YouTube has brought him opportunities such as radio interviews and master of ceremonies jobs. He even interviewed comedian Casper de Vries for Gareth Cliff’s online radio station, Cliff Central.

“The popularity also helped my personality. I used to be extremely shy and didn’t like public speaking. Now with all the eyes on me, I have more self-confidence.”

And he earns a small income out of the advertisements that YouTube puts on his videos. “It’s not much yet though. You begin making more money the more popular you get.”

Last year, he was sponsored by the cellphone app WeChat. He just had to mention the name of the app to make an extra few rand.

Fitzgibbon shoots and edits his own videos. “It is very easy. I just need my room, lighting and a bed.”

Note that this video contains language that some may find offensive, and is not suitable for work. Watch at your own discretion.

The role of young leaders

As the news coordinator of the university’s radio station, Fitzgibbon needs to be on top of events on campus. He was active in the Rhodes Must Fall movement. “This has reminded me that we as the youth should not forget the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before us.

“It has also reminded me that racism, gender inequality and homophobia are still real problems in society and that the youth of today can fight against it,” he says. “Young leaders are those who make a tangible difference in today’s society – those who look to the future, without forgetting the past, but not dwelling in our past grievances.”

Young people should not lose sight of their dreams based on their current financial status or standard of living.

Speaking of reaching for your dreams, he has some advice for aspiring vloggers:

  • Stay consistent. Making videos to keep your audience updated every week or month assures that they will want to subscribe to your channel so they can be updated of future vlogs.
  • Find your niche. Having a specific theme or genre is important.
  • Planning is everything. For example, having a script is helpful.
  • Edit your videos.
  • Have fun and be yourself. Don’t expect greatness, rather make videos because you enjoy creating and sharing memories with your audience.