Despite their slick and suited up appearance, they are not afraid to totter in the sand when engrossed in the heat of their performances.
You may have come across a video of six people dressed in black suits, dark shades, and leather shoes twisting in sync to a techno beat while carrying a coffin.
They are Ghana’s dancing pallbearers. As the covid-19 pandemic rages, they have become an accidental face for the stay-at-home directives. Internet junkies edited into their dancing clips and created short warning clips.
Nana Otafrija, are the Ghanian dancing pallbearers who have hit international stardom with their new meme. The group first gained recognition when their trade was featured in the BBC 2017 documentary. Their performances - now dubbed as the ‘coffin dance’ - have become a meme with an infusion of an EDM tune.
Benjamin Aidoo, leader of the group, wants to convert a funeral into a joyous occasion. His eyes are set on expanding internationally.
Meme a worldwide hit
The meme even hit in India, thousands of miles away, and has been used to raise awareness on social distancing.
A video of the police in Peru once mimicking the pallbearers emerged as they used that humor to caution the public on the dangers of flouting covid-19 rules. In the Middle East, a video of Lebanese protestors mourning their sorry economic state using the coffin dance emerged. This was after inflation shot through the roof after a drop in 50% value of their national currency.
Men who were dressed in pallbearer-like attire marched through the streets with a mock coffin adorned with the Lebanese Lira. People have been sharing the videos after the outbreak began generating millions of likes, clicks, and an international movement.
Merchandise for Fans
Miniatures in the form of the dancing pallbearers are available for purchase in Hong Kong and a video game inspired version of Mario’s death is marked by pixellated pallbearers who carry him away in a coffin. Benjamin Adoo, the lead pallbearer considers the Mario version as his best.
With the newfound fame, the pallbearers are using their platform to spread messages of positivity to their new audiences. Their new slogan is “stay at home or dance with us”.
In an interview with Marca, Mr. Adoo revealed he was a big fan of football. He recollects playing the sport as a child but disliking the training involved. His top three he began with Ronaldinho.
He recalled the Brazilian’s excellent footwork and remembers how the prolific star dribbled past rivals while playing for AC Milan, Barcelona, and Paris St Germain. Now aged 40, Ronaldinho is an accomplished international star who has bagged every award as a professional footballer.
His next choice was Lionel Messi, the Argentine forward and Barcelona star. Messi holds the record for most goals scored in the Spanish La Liga. Despite his remarkable achievements, the 32-year-old is about to extend his current contract in Camp Nou for another 2 years.
The third player on Mr.Adoo’s list is Ronaldo whose trophy chest is just as rich as Messi, if not bigger. He currently plays for Juventus and has won the Ballon d’Or multiple times.
Mr. Adoo’s journey
In Ghana, burials are a big deal resulting in several dancing pallbearers such as Nana Otafrija. When people pass away from old age, relatives plan out a celebratory event with full buffets, open bars, live bands, and photographers. As a young man, Mr. Aidoo started working at a funeral home, when he decided to form a band to stand out. The group of 6 has now grown into 100. His long term aspiration is to take the business globally as soon as the global travel restrictions lift off.
The dancing pallbearers even appeared on one of Trump’s tweets depicting former Vice President Joe Biden suffer a death sentence from the Ghanaian dancing pallbearers. The video depicts Biden’s comments “ain’t black” during an interview on The Breakfast Club radio show. Biden has since apologized for those comments.
You can keep in touch with their latest shares and updates on Benjamin Aidoo’s Twitter.