Senegalese-born TikTok star Khaby Lame finally gets Italian citizenship after having lived in the country since he was a child. The 22-year-old influencer, who is the most popular TikToker with 148 million followers, took his oath of citizenship Wednesday in Chiavasso, a municipality outside Turin, the local government said.
He moved to Italy from his home country Senegal when he was a child but only was granted citizenship now due to strict Italian citizenship laws, according to ABC News.
Lame told reporters that he was “very proud” of his new citizenship and that he had always felt Italian. “Very little has changed,” the Euro News site quoted him as saying. The TikTok star still has a Senegalese passport, BBC reported.
Lame started off as an industrial worker in Chivasso, Northern Italy. However, when COVID-19 struck, he became one of the many people who got laid off worldwide as a result of the impact of the contagion on businesses and the global economy.
The Senegalese moved from his country of origin to Italy when he was only one year old. He speaks Italian, but he was not recognized as an Italian in Italy despite living in the country from age one and attending Italian schools.
In an interview with the New York Times, Lame revealed his successful social media career started when he spent several hours posting comedy clips on TikTok and the clips soon went viral. One of his most-watched videos has over 158 million views. The clip mocks a fellow TikToker who cut himself free from a car door shearing through his T-shirt. Lame makes the same video but instead of reaching for scissors to cut himself free, he simply opens the door to free himself and shrugs.
According to the New York Times, Lame’s earliest posts were in Italian although he sometimes spoke his native language. “But it was the wordless, expressive reaction clips — poking fun at forks transformed into spoons with tape or defending the sanctity of Italian pizza from a video that proposes Sour Patch Kids toppings — that have catapulted Mr Lame to international stardom,” according to the New York Times.
His rise on the social media platform has been entirely organic and his videos lack professional touch compared to other famous TikTok stars. His content turns to mock or debunks overproduced content across multiple social media platforms.
Lame told the New York Times that the success of his videos was due to the fact that he speaks a “global language.” “It’s my face and my expressions which make people laugh,” he added.