The Best African Memes of 2018

Laugh with us into 2019 with OkayAfrica's best African memes of 2018.

Meme culture has become a mainstay on these internet streets. It's essentially an alternate form of communicating, of commentary and of simple laughter. 2018 had its fair share of highs and lows, and young Africans continue to utilize memes to celebrate or to cope with the nonsense.

To reflect on the African memes that broke the internet this year, we tapped contributors and African meme tastemakers to list the best African memes of 2018.

Laugh away below.

The genius Black Panther memes using Nollywood clips.

Black Panther took the world by storm this year (can you believe the film premiered in February?). The jokes soon followed the criticisms and commentary that rolled through the internet after folks screened the film. What had us rolling were the memes referencing the film using classic Nollywood clips, like the one above.

Revisit the rest of our favorite memes, featuring familiar Nollywood legends like Nkem Owoh, Aki and Paw Paw here.

-Antoinette Isama

Adot the Comedian resurfaces.

The diaspora has had its fair share of comedians go viral with their hilarious skits over the years. Some of the OG's include Nigerian-British jokester Adot the Comedian. Adot has produced a bunch of content but none of them are as funny as his 2014 web series, 'Adots Apprentice'—a parody of Donald Trump's reality competition show, 'The Apprentice'—which is where the meme above come from.

-Tosin Makinde

I shaku on the beat as well.

Miami rapper Kodak Black teamed up with Offset and Travis Scott on the track "ZEZE" and the #zezechallenge commenced, where aspiring rappers and sneakers freestyled over the catchy instrumental produced by D.A. Doman. One freestyle attempt from British influencer Lorraine, aka Loz, had diaspora Twitter in tears when she closed her flow off with the bar "I shaku on the beat as well"—which in turn boosted her virality value that even led to a fully-produced music video. Writer Shamira Ibrahim explains how young Africans took the phrase to troll everyone including their parents:

There is nothing more familiar than the feeling of innocuously sharing something light-hearted with your parents, only to be hit with a lecture on why you are failing to focus on your priorities. Whether it be a video game or a shaku, being judicious about the leisurely content we share with our parents is a time-honored tradition of young adulthood.

-Shamira Ibrahim

I cannot believe my eyes.

South Sudanese singer Akon Makeer's 2012 patriotic song, "Star Flag I Love You, My Country I Love You," resurfaced on social media this year. Diaspora Twitter utilized snippets from her track to accompany life moments that are all too relatable, like the tweet above.

This deep cut has all the makings of a meme—green screen scenes, stationary camera shots, prom gowns and a cute kid. But in all seriousness, when you listen to the song in full, Makeer tells the story of what her people had to endure to receive their beloved flag—their independence. Can't be mad at that.


The beloved 'Oh my God, wow' meme.

This clip might arguably be one of the top five African memes that had us rolling this year. Back in March we uncovered the meme's origin story (read more about it here), which led us to the 2012 Ghanaian film 'Azonto Ghost.' The film is spoken in Twi, one of Ghana's main languages. We tapped director, producer and screenwriter Scilla Owusu to summarize and give context as to why this uncle is so hype:

"The woman is pregnant but she was too shy to tell her husband. The husband finally convinces her to tell him what news she was hiding from him," Owusu says. "She then lets him know she's 3 months pregnant. He's so happy and gives thanks to the Lord and is very relieved to hear the great news."


Well, next question. See ya!

Kenyan-Australian politician Lucy Gichuhi is all of us when trying to dodge sticky questions and life's blows in general. The clip of her abruptly ending a press conference this year landed in the hands of the internet to become a mainstay meme.

According to Buzzfeed News, Gichuhi heads the Australian Senate education committee and has been involved in politics since 2016. Before the viral response, she was asked about a thread the jobs and innovation minister Michaelia Cash unleashed to call out young women in opposition leader Bill Shorten's office in lieu of the rumors that were circulating in the midst of a sex scandal that was occurring in Australian politics.

No wonder Gichuhi wasn't trying to get caught up with that mess. Kenyan podcast host and all-around multi-hyphenate Ekua Musumba explains how Kenyans on Twitter ate up this meme for laughs:

#KOT, better knows as Kenyans on Twitter made this meme go viral because we all have an aunt who is as dramatic as this! From her facial expressions to her demeanor on camera, she was completely polite but highly uncomfortable. The "see-ya" at the end seals the deal! Hilarious!

-Ekua Musumba

Pikachu as an African Mom or Auntie. Enough said.

The shocked African Pikachu Auntie, or APA for short, is my favorite of all the viral Pikachu memes. It so perfectly encapsulates a reaction that is so ubiquitous—and can be in response to the most flagrant behavior down to the most innocuous. APA might be triggered because you responded "what??" when your name was called—at any age. Keep your wits about you.


Aki + Paw Paw memes continued to reign supreme in 2018.

An African meme selection cannot be complete without Aki (Chinedu Ikedieze) and Paw Paw (Osita Iheme). The comedic duo have been working since the early 2000s and there is not a time you cannot see work from their films on the Twitter timeline.


When I'm through with you, you will see.

This clip has another origin story we had fun digging up on ever since Chance the Rapper went out of his way to ask Twitter where it came from back in March.

The dramatic "evangelist" in this meme is Nigerian comedian and actor Ayo Ajewole, who started a drama/comedy ministry Alfa Sule with his Brother, Femi in 2002. This skit was initially released in 2009, where you'll see Ayo screaming "When I'm through with you, you will see" to a man as he tries to force him to join his church that only consists of two people—the pastor and his wife.

Read more about this clip here.


Nigerians' willful pronunciation errors + Dexter's Laboratory collide.

Last month, Konbini Nigeria uncovered the origin story behind a photo from iconic cartoon 'Dexter's Laboratory' that Nigerians used to make fun folks' pronunciations of words and phrases. Because English and other European languages brought by our former colonial rulers were imposed on our people by force, the willful misinterpretations of these said words are a hilarious form of resistance, and we can't get enough of it.


The #IdibalaChallenge is sure to lift your spirits any day.

Limpopo musician King Monada's catchy hit "Malwedhe" spread like wildfire across the continent due to the #IdibalaChallenge. According to Business Insider South Africa, the title of the song means 'sickness' in the Bolobedu dialect of the Sepedi language. Since the hook of the track translates to, 'I have an illness of fainting,' challenge participants took to literally fainting any and everywhere, like the Tanzanian wedding above.


Putting a gele on this popular Patrick meme had us cackling this year.

It's clear that this year was the year that the characters from 'Spongebob Squarepants' will forever be evergreen memes on social media. The 'Savage Patrick' meme made its hilarious rounds, but once someone added the necessary gele and complimentary necklace and turned Spongebob's bff into an African auntie, our stomachs commenced to hurt.

African Twitter proceeded to go down memory lane with what we went through as kids to how our parents go out of their way to bombard us with nonsense on WhatsApp (like the tweet above refers to). This remixed meme was yet another moment for us to revel in our shared experiences.

The rest of our favorites can be found here.


Diaspora Twitter had a field day reacting to Prince Harry + Meghan Markle's engagement this year.

What we love the most about black folks on Twitter is their ability to take random current events and make it more relevant than any other media outlet or platform could ever attempt to. One moment that is a great example of that was the engagement announcement between Prince Harry and American actor Meghan Markle.

Of course we cared because of Meghan, she's out here shaking things up in the royal family as we speak. But since their engagement and wedding were black af as a result, the jokes and memes ensued like the one above.

Check out more of our favorite reactions here.


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A few days ago, the Zimbabwean government issued a directive to major cellular network providers Econet and TelOne to disable the internet and all access to social media. The directive was an attempt to prevent any information from spreading outside the country's borders with regards to the nationwide protests which have led to the deaths of at least five people and the injury of at least twenty-five others.

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The front page of The New York Times on January 16, 2019

Kenyans Are Furious at the New York Times for Posting Photos of Terrorist Victims

After the the deadly attack on Tuesday, many are accusing the American newspaper of having a double standard on which dead bodies they allow into the paper

Is the New York Times guilty of a double standard when it comes to publishing images of dead bodies?

Kenyans, and others fed up with the coverage, took to social media in the hundreds to denounce a Times article that included an image of victims of Tuesday's Nairobi terrorist attack, bloodied from bullets, and lying hunched over their laptops, dead.

It has cause enough debate online to where the Times' incoming East Africa Bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura felt the need to explain their photo policy, which is to show the dead only if their faces cannot be seen in the image. The photo in question fits the policy as the faces are facing away from the camera. She would later apologize before posting the official policy to her Twitter account. The photo remains up.

The Times' official response, as those tend to do online, has only created more anger. But unlike many unruly Twitter mobs, those responding to the official statement have a rather coherent message—"you wouldn't do this with photos of the American dead."

Some of the responses to the Times' official statement.

In a response to the controversy from the Poynter Institute, a typically astute observer of journalistic practice in the United States, they run through the typical American journalism school approach to publishing photos that might shock or offend. They write:

Should the Times have run the photo?
There is no easy answer.
The first question any news organization must ask when deciding to publish violent images is: WHY show it?
In other words, what is the news value? Does the public need to see such an image to fully grasp what happened? Does the public need to see such a photo to confirm or disprove the official account of the events?
An argument could be made that a writer's words could accurately describe the scene without being as disturbing as the image. In addition, when it comes to an act of terrorism, might publishing such a photo actually advance the cause of the terrorists, showing the damage they caused, thus fueling dread and panic?
Also this: The photo on the Times website came without warning. As a reader, you didn't know you were going to see a photo of dead people until you actually saw it.
Those are arguments to not run such a photo or, at least, warn readers of its graphic content.

While it's a fine analysis of when to show a violent image, it misses the central issue at play for those aggrieved by the Times' posting—that the American news-gaze values certain lives differently. Black, brown, foreign, poor—American journalism organizations, including the New York Times, cannot escape a base ethnocentrism in their coverage. It's so embedded into how these institutions operate, and the gap in understanding is so wide, that to much of the world, the Times' official response is laughably wrong at first glance.

"We take the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens--balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events"

And while there are examples from the Times that complicate this feeling, like these images of the dead in the terrorist attack in Nice, France, it doesn't discount the wider and correct feeling that the white victims of American mass shootings are treated differently than their African counterparts. And while there are complicated and systematic reasons for this which will always make discussing it difficult, to simply deny that different standards exist, does not increase the Times' credibility with Kenyans or the newspaper's growing online audience which will only become more vocal about how they're portrayed.

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Follow OkayAfrica on Spotify and Apple Music to get immediate updates every week and read about some of our selections ahead.

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