Ghana's dancing pallbearers have a message for anyone who isn't social distancing
via Benjamin Aidoo / Twitter

In 2017, the dancing Ghanaian pallbearers went viral after being covered by BBC Africa. Led by their front man Benjamin Aidoo, Otafrija Pallbearing Services earned millions of views for their flashy outfits and insane ability to dance while carrying a coffin.

At some point, someone mixed footage of the pallbearers dancing to Vicetone and Tony Igy's 2010 club hit "Astronomia," giving an even darker edge to the footage. According to Know Your Meme, this combination made its first appearance as a punchline in skiing fail clip.



The pallbearers soon became the punchline in countless fail videos. The clips are often used to mock people who've made reckless mistakes and now have to meet their maker.




The pallbearers gained even more fame as their dancing coffin routine became a way for people to shame those who aren't practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This one about the reopening of a shopping mall during COVID-19 is particularly funny.


African Funeral/Coffin Meme: Coronavirus edition www.youtube.com


The dancing pallbearers have become 2020's version of the Grim Reaper. In Brazil, they're used in public service announcements telling people, "Stay home or dance with us."

Aidoo is taking his new viral fame in stride and actually has a good sense of humor about it.

"It's a bit scary, but it's funny, too," said Aidoo, 32, who lives in Accra, the capital of Ghana. "People are saying, 'I'd rather stay home than have these guys bury me.' "

This pallbearer extraordinaire should be comfortable around death. He's been working at a funeral home since he was a teenager. Ghanaian funerals have long incorporated dancing, but since the 1990s people began hiring dancing troupes to give their deceased family members the ultimate send-off.

Aidoo's troupe now has over 100 members and he hopes to take his business worldwide.

"Over time," Wilhelmina Donkoh, a Ghanaian author and historian, told MSN, "the pallbearers wanted to distinguish themselves by putting up intricate displays." She understands the appeal of the dancers at a time when people are afraid.

"People want and need comic relief," she said, "to cover up the reality of a disease without a cure."

Aidoo and his dancers went viral again this week, but this time it was a video of their own making. In a clip posted to Twitter, Aidoo decked out in his famous suit, but this time wearing a protective mask around his neck, thanked "all the doctors in the world. You are working hard and taking care of everyone."

But the video ended with a sinister warning.

"Now remember, stay at home or dance with us," Aidoo said with a laugh.

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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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