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How Aki And Pawpaw Became Global Meme Stars



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Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze gained prominence after making their debut as child actors in Aki na Ukwa in 2002. Since then, the duo, popularly known as Aki and Pawpaw, have starred in over 50 films and become hugely popular in Nollywood.

Although Aki and Pawpaw have since taken a backseat from featuring in many Nollywood movies in recent years, their impact is still very much felt within and outside the industry. Their popularity has somehow heightened in recent years, especially in pop culture, as their hilarious gestures and expressions are being widely circulated as memes across the world.

From Nollywood To The Global Stage

The trend which was first popular in Nigeria on Twitter has long since left the shores of the West African country. Nicole, a Brazil-based woman is largely responsible for the virality of the duo’s memes, after she discovered the actors on Ikedieze’s famous vine and combed the internet for more videos out of curiosity. Nicole, whose Twitter account now has over 217,000 followers, immediately began circulating the memes, reaching an unprecedented audience. In December 2018, American singer, Chris Brown shared the meme on his story addressing the rumor that he was dating rapper Cardi B and the comic went viral. Few months later, on June 28, 2019, American rapper 50 Cent joined Chris Brown in sharing a clip of Osita Iheme.

Both Grammy-winning superstars used the memes to react to contentious issues in their lives at the time. And soon after, another big gun in the music business, Snoop Dogg, jumped on the trend. Snoop Dogg was the third American music artist to circulate another meme of Pawpaw on his Instagram. The trend reached a crescendo when Rihanna’s beauty company, Fenty Beauty used the meme in one of its posts. The meme got over 75.9 million views. Other notable persons across the world have used Aki and Pawpaw’s memes to tell different stories, including lyrics aggregating platform, Genius.

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What’s Next?

After more than two decades in the movie industry, it’s without doubt that the actors are among the greatest figures to emerge from Africa in the 21st century. Chinedu Ikedieze is currently playing the role of Efe in the television series, ‘The Johnsons’. He is happily married. Osita Iheme has gone on to become a serial investor and philanthropist.

He has several real estates, charity organizations, and foundations aimed at helping the physically challenged and displaced. Many observers are of the opinion that the veteran actors deserve to get paychecks for the use of their images as memes, while others simply think they should use the exposure to return fully to the big screen in order to continue to play the characters millions of people across the world have come to love.

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