Maybe you have seen this video on the Internet: six African men in black suits, patent leather shoes, and sunglasses carry a coffin and dance with electronic sound. They are actually a group of patrons from Ghana who have long tried to use dance to bring some smiles to the grieving families at the funeral. When the global new crown epidemic was raging, they appeared in humorous videos, inadvertently responding to the appeal of the “household”, warning people not to violate the quarantine regulations.
Lego toy with the theme of “Black Man Carrying Coffin”
The number of infected people is still increasing, but the shopping malls have to be reopened? Here, let’s play a video of the black man carrying the coffin. Protesting quarantine measures at the outbreak site? Here, let’s play another video of the black man carrying the coffin. Forgot to wash your hands before meals? Play it again! Since the outbreak of the epidemic, thousands of netizens in China, Brazil, and the United States have shared warning videos of blacks carrying coffins, attracting fans from all over the world for Ghanaian coffins.
| Unexpectedly popular |
Benjamin Aidu, the founder of this coffin-lifting team, was a little at a loss for the sudden “popularity”. One day in March, he woke up from his sleep and suddenly found that the video of his team’s coffin lifting dance was widely circulated on the Internet. “It does scare me a bit, but it also finds it interesting,” said Benjamin, a 32-year-old Ghanaian. “People are saying that it is better to stay at home instead of being carried on our shoulders.”
Stump cake with the theme of “coffin-carrying dance”
In Quibdo, Colombia, a group of local policemen carried the coffin and walked through the city with the dance steps of Benjamin’s team, while urging residents to stay at home through loudspeakers. The same scene also appeared in French and Portuguese-speaking countries. They warned people in their respective languages to “stay at home or go into the coffin and dance with us.”
The image of the Ghanaian coffin-carrying dancer was also created by fans as a superhero in the comics, and even painted on an egg holding a tree stump cake, as if staged a “parody show.” Lego also deliberately produced a building block suit with the theme of “Black Man Carrying Coffin”. Some shops also display miniature models of the coffin bearer dolls. In this special period shrouded in the shadow of death, this kind of black humor has become an effective means of exhortation. In March, the hashtag “Black Man Carrying Coffin” appeared on Twitter at least 60,000 times, breaking the historical record.
Richmond Lee, a 36-year-old Thai video game artist from Chiang Mai, said on social networking sites that “black people carry coffins” will be the “emoji pack of the year” in 2020. He said: “I have seen it in memes in Asian countries such as Thailand and Japan. In the culture of Asian countries, death is a taboo topic, and’black people carrying coffins make the atmosphere lighter.”
Benjamin’s coffin lifting team
The 25-year-old Nairobi social media director Kevin Mboya also found the “Black Man Carrying the Coffin” emoji very interesting, and he also released another version of reggae music. He said: “‘The black man carrying the coffin brought some relief to this catastrophe. Most importantly, it reminded me and my friends to stay at home to avoid infection.”
Shandi Sayogo, a 64-year-old illustrator in Bandung, Indonesia, said that this emoji has brought fun to his isolated life. It has inspired him to design the pixel animation of the coffin-lifting dancer, and it has also brought him Positive attitude and strength in life.
As of the end of September, the number of new crown cases in Ghana has exceeded 40,000 and nearly 300 people have died. The popularity of the coffin-lifting dance gave Benjamin some relief from his anxiety about the severe situation of the epidemic. In order to control the spread of the virus, Ghana bans all music-related large gatherings. Therefore, Benjamin and other coffin bearers can only wear masks and perform low-key performances at small funerals. At the end of April, they were invited by a local TV station to perform on stage.
| Ghanaian funeral traditions |
In fact, the coffin-carrying dance is part of the traditional funeral in Ghana. When someone in the family dies naturally due to old age, a funeral that lasts several days is usually held, with a photographer, an open bar, a buffet, and a band.
Ghanaian writer and historian Wilhelmina Donko recalled that when private funeral companies did not appear in the 1990s, family members traditionally carried the coffin. With the changes of the times, some professional coffin carriers have begun to pay attention to performing some unconventional performances in funerals. This seems to cater to the tastes of today’s public. “People need to laugh to temporarily relieve the pressure caused by the new crown epidemic.” Wilhelmina said.
“Let them laugh to their heart’s content!” Benjamin said, “My team was born for this!” He started working in a funeral company when he was a teenager, and later founded this coffin-lifting team for independence. Unexpectedly, the first team of only six local dancers now has hundreds of members. They are spread all over Ghana, and each member has his own specialties, and customers can choose the coffin-carrying dancers according to their needs. Benjamin dreamed of expanding his business overseas once he had the opportunity to travel abroad. He wants to go to Argentina, because there is his favorite football star Messi. But because the epidemic is still alive, Benjamin can only stay in his home country, continue to be obsessed with those funny memes, and slowly get used to his sudden popularity.