Chunkz: ‘I paved the way for myself as a YouTuber’

Chunkz: ‘I paved the way for myself as a YouTuber’

Social Media, Youtube

7/31/2021 11:38:00 PM

Chunkz: ‘I paved the way for myself as a YouTuber’

The social media phenomenon on honouring his Somali heritage, balancing fame and faith, and spending lockdown with his YouTube Beta Squad

Photograph: Mobo/Donnie Sunshine/REX/ShutterstockHis growing profile won him a place at last year’s Soccer Aid match at Old Trafford, where Chunkz(he jokingly refers to this as the worst day of his life) – another viral moment, which in turn has led to a permanent gig presenting Sky’s weekend football entertainment show

Saturday Social.Born and raised in north-west London, the youngest of five (he also has a brother), Chunkz says both his parents played an active role in steering him away from the problems that could come the way of young boys growing up in a council estate in Brent. “I was blessed to have both

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Maya Jama and Chunkz at the 2020 Mobo awards. Photograph: Mobo/Donnie Sunshine/REX/Shutterstock His growing profile won him a place at last year’s Soccer Aid match at Old Trafford, where Chunkz (he jokingly refers to this as the worst day of his life) – another viral moment, which in turn has led to a permanent gig presenting Sky’s weekend football entertainment show Saturday Social . B orn and raised in north-west London, the youngest of five (he also has a brother), Chunkz says both his parents played an active role in steering him away from the problems that could come the way of young boys growing up in a council estate in Brent. “I was blessed to have both Hooyo [Mum] and Aabo [Dad].” he says. “By the time we were between 12 and 15, a lot of the kids I grew up with either went to the right or the left.” Early on in his career, Chunkz noticed that there weren’t many YouTubers like him. He says he looked up to KSI, Poet and David Vujanic, but didn’t feel represented. “I couldn’t really relate to anyone else, so I paved the way for myself. I liked the content of the YouTubers I watched, I thought they were funny, but I couldn’t really see myself in them.” Although he says he avoided speaking Somali in his earlier videos, in case he was typecast and limited his audience, he felt he could connect with an entire community who were not being represented online. “I love being Somali,” he says. His descriptions of his childhood are familiar: the sweet chaos that comes with growing up with plenty of cousins; the loud iftars and sleepy suhoors (early morning meals) during Ramadan. And playing outside as late as you could get away with: “Everyone’s mum had to come round the corner and scream our names. I’d run inside to eat qado [lunch] and go straight back out.” As for many young British Somalis, though, myself included, a sense of pride in our culture and heritage wasn’t always easy to find. Despite my own school having a diverse student body, anti-Somali rhetoric was rife – something Chunkz says he also experienced during his school years: “To some people, being Somali was an L [loss].” The only time you’d hear about Somalis in the media was in relation to famine, refugees, pirates or al-Shabaab militants. As with many Somalis in this country, their parents fled to the UK as a result of the Somali civil war in the early 90s. Growing up, there were barely any high-profile Somalis in the news, certainly not many in the UK. We weren’t represented in culture, or in positions of power. Today, Somalis who are part of the global diaspora are making their presence known. From politics to film-making and fashion, young Somalis can look up to Mo Farah, poet