In the good old days of Vine, one of the most popular clips was that of what appears to be a kid holding up a machete. With a mix of tears and sweat falling from his face, the young man cries to his mother, whom we can’t see in the video. You can feel the pain in his voice when he says, “Mama, tell him!” In a sudden burst of exasperation, he throws down the machete and sits with his bowed head in his hands, defeatedly hissing, “Oh my God.” This video quickly became the go-to reaction meme for expressing frustration, annoyance, or disappointment. The looping effect of Vines made it impossible to stop watching it, but the origin of the clip was largely a mystery.
Fast-forward to a post-Vine 2019, a world where short videos of two small boys doing decidedly grown-up things like smoking cigars, pranking adults, and successfully wooing a number of women with their boisterous, high-pitched voices began to pick up in popularity on Twitter. Like the Vine that preceded them, the origin of these videos has remained obscure.
But for those well versed in movies from the Nigerian film industry, a.k.a. Nollywood, there’s no mystery here. The “boys” in these viral videos are the Nigerian comic-film duo Osita Iheme and Chinedu Ikedieze. Ikedieze is also the crying guy from the Vine. Don’t be fooled by Iheme and Ikedieze’s size — they’re both grown men (Iheme is 37 and Ikedieze is 41). They’re two of the most sought-after actors in Nigeria for comedic roles, and they rose to fame by playing mischievous children under the moniker “Aki and Pawpaw.”
Nicole, a Brazil-based woman behind the Twitter account @nollywoodroll, is largely responsible for Iheme and Ikedieze’s meme-star status. Her account, which has amassed over 200,000 followers since January, was created after she discovered the actors from Ikedieze’s famous Vine. Out of curiosity, she combed the internet for more videos of the actor and slowly worked her way through his entire filmography, as well as Iheme’s. She loved the movies so much that she decided to create an account to post snippets from them, as a form of homage to the actors. “I had no idea how far the clips would go!” she tells Vulture. “It’s quite exciting that a lot of people enjoy this content and thank me for introducing them to these actors.”