Udayavni Special

Ghana Pallbearers: The Story behind the viral Coffin Dance Meme

Team Udayavani, Jul 6, 2020, 6:40 PM IST

We have all have come across the famous “Coffin dance” meme where 4 black guys dance with the coffin. The meme became widely popular during the Covid-19 lockdown as netizens used the meme to relate it with funny falls or accidents.

In the 5 second clip six African men can be seen grooving to Tony Igy’s Astronomia while executing synchronized and complex dance steps

The video was uploaded by Travelin Sister on YouTube in 2015 when she attended a funeral for her mother-in-law and witnessed this Ghanaian tradition firsthand. The video gained 4 million views.

But did you know that this famous meme has an interesting history behind it

It is said that in Ghana  death is considered as a homecoming and is celebrated. The four men are called as Dancing Pallbearers. They are a Ghanaian group of pallbearers who are based in the coastal town of Prampram in the Greater Accra Region of southern Ghana.

In 2010, a man named Benjamin Aidoo, started a pallbearers company. This group was well known in the neighborhood.

The dance became popular when a lady named Elizabeth’s mother died in Ghana. Her mother’s last wish was that the men carrying her coffin must dance in a special style.

While the men were dancing carrying the coffin, a relative of the deceased filmed it and uploaded it on the youtube. This is how the coffin dance came to limelight.

Benjamin later had the idea of adding choreography to their pallbearing work.

Also, in 2017, BBC News Africa featured a documentary on the pallbearers and their coffin dance.

Ghanaian families have been using the pallbearer’s services to bid farewell to their beloved ones  with pomp and style. Generally, the pallbearers are a team of 4 to 6 people

In March 2020, a YouTuber uploaded the video onto YouTube which started a trend on the Internet. In April, the group became the subject of a darkly comedic internet meme when videos of people suffering various mishaps, followed by clips of the pallbearers dancing with coffins became viral.

After the meme became viral on internet, people from all over the world took inspiration and came up with their own style. Many policemen across the world were seen creating traffic awareness and urging people to stay home using the meme.

The pallbearers also became famous with their cartoons and plastic figurines being sold all over   the globe.

Recently, the pallbearers were seen suited in white not carrying a casket but showing solidarity and gratitude to the medics worldwide for their service to the community amid the coronavirus crisis.

In a clip the Ghana coffin dancers posted on Instagram the band members covered their faces with masks thanked healthcare workers.

The video was captioned as, “From the lead of the band, Nana Otafrija, to all doctors and medical workers in the world, thank you.” Further, in the clip, the band members applaud the doctors and say, “You are working hard to take care of everyone. Remember, stay our hope.”

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