Kelvin Ikwara, 29 year old TikTok sensation who is a factory worker by day
Kelvin Ikwara emerged on our social media pages a smiling man in a light pink shirt, dancing to famous rapper Kendrick Lamar’s song Love, which features Zacari.
In his neatly buttoned shirt and belted-up trouser, the content creator performed a captivating, yet humorous dance routine, in which he symbolized some of the lyrics of the HipHop tune and whined his waist on TikTok.
While the content creator had been a fan of the social networking app, he had not anticipated the attention and rise to fame that the post brought him.
“I posted the video in the evening, and when I woke up and opened my account the next morning, I was shocked by the rise in numbers. Before, I would get 10-15 likes per post, but this post had 3000 likes in less than twelve hours. I also had over 50 new followers the same night. I noticed that most of the likes and comments were from people in different countries and continents,” Ikwara tells The Standard in an exclusive interview.
The video, which catapulted him to online fame, was enjoyed by social media users across the globe, who buttoned up their shirts to perform choreography duets with Ikwara on the app.
Among the wave of newfound fans and social media friends were notable figures and celebrities.
“When Lupita Nyong’o posted my TikTok video on her Instagram story, my social media accounts were filled with new followers and many more likes. That is when I knew that my content was reaching people far and wide,” says Ikwara.
But he says seeing TikTok star Azziad Nasenya gave him the inspiration he needed to let his guard down and be more creative with his posts. Nasenya had been enjoying success on the application and was catapulted to fame after dancing to Femi One and Mejja’s song ‘Utawezana’.
He then began playing HipHop and RnB audios and interacting more with the social networking site.
Now, the content creator, who is 29 enjoys a total of 3 million likes on TikTok, and a loyal and ever-growing following of over two hundred thousand.
By day, he is a contractual worker at a factory which he says offers delivery services, by night, he juggles being a family man with squeezing in time to do his content creation.
“I have a lady in my life, and we have a six-month-old baby. Because of the hectic schedule at work, I don’t really have time to come up with choreography beforehand. If I decide to shoot a TikTok video, I take 5 minutes to prepare. I’ll listen to the words of the song, its rhythm and go with the flow from there,” says Ikwara.
Ikwara says that he ventured into TikTok in mid-2020 after hearing his colleagues and friend discuss the application, which had become more popular than ever with lockdowns imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It wasn’t until I saw Azziad’s success on the app that I began to look at it as a serious thing. After seeing how far and quickly she took off, I figured it was definitely worth a try,” says Ikwara.
Disputing rumours that he was from either Zambia or South Africa, the social media sensation confirmed that he works and resides within Nairobi.
“When I began posting regularly, my aim was to lift people’s spirits, since there was a sense of loss caused by the pandemic. I can’t mourn with a family that has lost its loved one, but as they continue to heal, at least I can bring a smile to their faces,” says Ikwara.
Speaking about the song whose dance catapulted him to fame, Ikwara says that his little sister is a Kendrick Lamar fan. He chose a song from one of her favourite hits, not knowing that he would remain associated with the Hollywood track.
“Nowadays people have begun to recognize me. Just the other day I was in Westlands and people started pointing, calling me ‘The TikTok man’,” says Ikwara with a laugh, adding that he adores his fans, who are the reason for his newfound fame.
“I realized that a lot of my viewers are also children, so I am cautious to create content that can be watched by viewers of all ages,” says Ikwara.
The TikTok sensation hopes to own his own entertainment company one day, which, he says, he will use to bring entertainment closer to people, especially those in rural areas, who have limited access to trends.
He advises content creators who are just starting out to be consistent and maintain relevance by being informed about current affairs.
“You can’t do one video then leave it till next month. Be reliable, as it will show that you can deliver,” concludes the content creator.