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Updated Apr 28, 2020

Bleak humor can be a common response to uncertain and scary times, which may explain why a short clip of Ghanaian pallbearers dancing to a techno bop is the biggest meme right now. The pallbearers’ dance is usually paired with a joke about breaking lockdown procedures or otherwise engaging in risky behavior that risks infection.

The meme originates from a funeral performance group based in Ghana, where they perform modern variations on traditional burial dances, where funerals are important social occasions. Benjamin Aidoo, the group’s founder, was surprised to see his troupe become so ubiquitous online, but is nonetheless pleased by the public-awareness message that the meme sends.

 

An activist uses a megaphone to address members of the public on the importance of social distancing in Accra, Ghana. April 4th 2020. Ghana has announced a two-week lockdown in the country's two main regions of Accra and Kumasi. The move came as the authorities reported 137 confirmed cases, including four deaths. Nipah Dennis / AFP
An activist uses a megaphone to address members of the public on the importance of social distancing in Accra, Ghana, on April 4, 2020. (Nipah Dennis / AFP)

 

The government has banned large public gatherings with music.

 

During an interview, Aidoo cracked a joke about the importance of remaining indoors to avoid COVID-19, otherwise, “We’re going to dance with them!”

The attention the pallbearers is getting is some distraction from the somber reality in Ghana, which to date has reported 1,550 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths. The government has imposed a raft of temporary restrictions, including a ban on large public gatherings with music. In the meantime, the pallbearers do more subdued performances at smaller funerals.

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