Myanmar meme trolls the world
ONE of the best pranks in Myanmar meme history was announced yesterday by what appeared to be a Nationalist Myanmar Facebook page.
On August 30, the page had posted a meme that purported to show former UN secretary general Kofi Annan – who was recently appointed to oversee a human rights commission on Rakhine State – and stated, in English, “WE NO NEED COFFEE ANNAN HE GO AWAY”.
The man in the meme was not, in fact, Kofi Annan, but rather the American actor Morgan Freeman, who bears some resemblance to the former secretary general. Associated Press picked up the story and attributed the post to ultra-Buddhist nationalist group Ma Ba Tha.
“Ma Ba Tha condemned Annan’s involvement in a Facebook post Monday that called him ‘a funnylooking and disrespectful person [who] cannot talk about our own issues in the country’. It also called Annan, who is from Ghana, a ‘kalar’, a slur used in Myanmar against Muslims and Indians,” AP reported.
Global news sources ran with the story, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Yahoo News. But yesterday, the administrators of the page changed their cover photo to one stating, “You just got pranked AP. Lol”.
It appears that the original post was a joke, playing on international desires to mock ultra-Buddhist nationalists, and that the page is not actually affiliated with the Ma Ba Tha group.
The Myanmar Times spoke with Isaiah Garza, a meme expert/ humorist who has disseminated hundreds of similar posts in recent months. Garza called the anonymous posters “quality trolls”.
“To be honest, it fooled me,” he admitted. “The misspelling might have given it away, but it added to the hilarity.”
Garza added that it was the first Myanmar meme he had ever seen that included English words – another tip that it might have been a ruse.
At press time, a representative from the real Ma Ba Tha could not be reached for comment. Neither could Kofi Annan. Or Morgan Freeman.
This meme, posted on August 30 by what appeared to be a Ma Ba Tha-related Facebook page, made international news before being exposed as a prank.