Three months. That’s how long Lasizwe Dambuza, real name Thulasizwe Siphiwe Dambuza, took to hit the 1 million views mark on YouTube.
The local television personality and social media sweetheart is on the upwards trajectory as he carves out a niche for his unique brand of humour in the online world.
Just minutes before, I watched while he worked the tills like a pro while dressed as his alter ego, Nomatriquency.
Amid cries of hysteria, fans lined up to get selfies and a taste of Nomatriquency’s trademark catchphrase “Iyadeclina!"
Now sitting across from me, still dressed in Nomatriquency’s trademark red coat, Dambuza reflects on a character that has become as much a part of his personality as the air he breathes. “She’s a fictional character that I just decided to create based on everyday experience,” he says coyly. “Nomatriquency is someone who is very relatable, but she’s always angry and sad. She’s always angry - you can see it in her face. Whenever you take a picture with her, she doesn’t smile.”
And relatable she is. It was only a matter of time until a brand came knocking on his door. Local retailer Game Stores did just that and the collaboration has proved fruitful for both parties involved. As part of their Dare To Compare Roadshow, Game has taken Nomatriquency across the country, and the response has been phenomenal.
In fact, it’s been so remarkable, that Game and Dambuza have started their own “reality show” documenting the different experiences that Nomatriquency encounters, now that she’s been promoted to supervisor.
With more than 500K followers on Instagram, the pressure to create something enticing is always there. But he knows his audience, and he never shies away from controversy which explains why he is never short of likes and views. “I absorb everything that’s around me; different scenarios, what people see, what people eat, what they do, their behaviour, their traits - that’s how I come up with content,” he adds.
It’s also his observations of his surroundings and keeping on top of trends, and then adding his Lasizwe magic, that keeps fans coming back for more. Case in point is his #bottlecapchallenge. The short Instagram video managed to clock up more than 230 000 views.
And through it all, the 20-year-old influencer and comedian knows he will forever be indebted to his fans. With his larger than life persona, he remains humble when talking about his 1 million views: “It means a lot. It means that people are really consuming my content. It means that I’m appreciated and loved, and it’s just crazy.”
Just two weeks ago, he was invited to Paris to attend the YouTube summit, and the immensity of it all still hasn’t sunk in for him. I ask him what it felt like to be around other YouTubers. “It’s crazy that there are other big content creators around the world that are doing what I’m doing, but they’re just doing it on a larger scale. It just keeps me motivated,” he responds.
Which brings us to his next big project - season 2 of "Fake It till You Make It". His reality show has been picked up by MTV for another season, and due to air in July. After premiering in January this year, the show gives a fly on the wall look inside Dambuza’s life, including that of his friends and family.
Playing a caricature of himself, it’s clear he’s taking great pains to play a character that simply plays up to the drama of it all - a role that he simply revels in. Because, when I ask who is the real Lasizwe, he smiles shyly and adds: “I am very introverted; very shy. I like my space and I’m just a regular boy.”
And when it comes to playing the role model, he knows what is expected of him, but he doesn’t dare take up the mantle. It’s something that he relays with a restrained melancholy. “Many parents want me to lead by example and teach their kids certain qualities.
"Sometimes it gets to me because I can’t make mistakes, and as humans we are bound to make mistakes,” he says. “So for me, that’s the pressure I have of how do I make sure that I still live my life but also accommodate the people that look up to me?”