“You Just Killed Me”: The Internet Meme Defying Angola’s Government

Photo of the music group Os Nandako, credited with starting the meme “You just killed me”. Image: Facebook Os Nandako, published with authorization.

Meet “You just killed me,” the viral meme challenge sweeping Angola where youth share images pretending to be dead under various objects: cement blocks, fridges, cookers, or cabinets — and usually accompanied by references to social problems faced in Angola.

The images often refer to the heavy rains that have hit Angola since late 2017. In the capital of Luanda over 2,000 homes have already been flooded and 10 people have died as a result of the destruction.

Os Nandako, a Kuduro and Afro-house music group, is credited with sparking the popular meme challenge. (Kuduro is an Angolan style of music influenced by North American rap, Caribbean soca, and native kizomba.)

But the trend has gone beyond the rains as a form of protest against the government of the Movimento Popular pela Libertação de Angola (MPLA), the party in power since 1979:

You just killed me! You who demand that I pay road tax but continue not keeping the roads in a good condition

On Facebook the following message is shared with the images, making reference to Angolan frustrations, among them, being the approval of the general budget for 2018 which plans more spending on defense and security than on health and education:

Acaba de me matar você que aprovou o OGE que vai piorar ou manter a vida dos jovens na desgraça.
Acaba de me matar você que na abundância só se preocupou com desvio do herário público.
Acaba de me matar você que se apoderou dos campos deixando os jovens sem espaço de prática de desporto.
Acaba de me matar você que só está preocupado comigo quando precisas do meu voto depois se esquece de mim.
Acaba de me matar você que não coloca medicamentos nos hospitais e quer punir os técnicos.
Acaba de me matar você que não consegue construir escolas, mas aparece todos os anos que dizendo que estamos a combater oanalfabetismo.
Acaba de me matar você que se aproveita da Bíblia para explorar as pobres mamães que de tanto sofrimento mesmo sem fé procuram auxilio de Deus.
Acaba de me matar você que vem a televisão dizendo que os produtos baixaram de preços mas na verdade os preços continuam a subir.
Acaba de me matar você que não cria políticas de emprego mas continua a correr com as zungueiras.
Acaba de me matar você que aproveita da farda para extorquir bolso do taxista.
Acaba de me matar você que exige que eu pague a taxa de circulação mas não estradas em condições.
Acaba de me matar você que não pagar o meu dinheiro.
Acaba de me matar você que fez o KILAPI que compromete o futuro dos meus filhos e netos.

You just killed me, you who approved the OGE [general state budget] that will worsen or keep youths’ lives in misery.
You just killed me, you who with your wealth only concern yourselves with embezzling public funds.
You just killed me, you who take the fields leaving the youth without spaces to practice sports.
You just killed me, you who are only worried about me when you need my vote and after forget me.
You just killed me, you who do not put any medicine in the hospitals and want to punish staff.
You just killed me, you who do not manage to build schools but appear every year saying we are combating illiteracy.
You just killed me, you who take advantage of the bible to exploit the poor mothers who suffer so much even without faith seeking help from God.
You just killed me, you who appear on the television saying that product prices fell but in truth prices continue rising.
You just killed me, you who do not make employment policies but continue to hunt street vendors.
You just killed me, you who take advantage of the uniform to rob the taxpayers’ pockets.
You just killed me, you who demand that I pay road tax but continue not keeping the roads in a good condition.
You just killed me, you who do not pay my money.
You just killed me, you who makes debt that jeopardizes the future of my children and grandchildren.

What exactly sparked the meme?

On February 20, Os Nandako released the song “Vanessa” in memory of one of the victims of the rains in Luanda. With the release, they shared photos depicting blocks fallen on their chests as a kind of reenactment of the destruction. Unexpectedly, others started doing the same:

You just killed me, a new tactic that the youth have started to use to protest against the difficult situation in the country, faced with the crisis devastating Angola

Some criticized the meme while others saw it as trivial and argued that there are other ways of talking about social problems.

For Angolan artist Kiluanji Kia Henda, the challenge is more than just a form of protest. It is also a form of performance:

Depois de vários anos a trabalhar como artista plástico e, com um claro interesse por questões ligadas a história e a intervenção social, não poderia deixar de expressar a minha admiração e deslumbre, com a série de fotografias do desafio que se tornou viral nas redes sociais, “Acaba de me matar”. Mais do que um acutilante protesto contra a degradante condição da vida nos musseques em Luanda, “Acaba de me matar” é também um acto de performance que se enquadra perfeitamente nos pensamentos e criações, no tal de universo da arte contemporânea. Apesar da sua estética extremamente violenta, o que ilustra bem o desespero de muitos jovens, não podemos esquecer que nada é pior do que a violência na vida real. Por isso, a ficção será sempre um meio pacifico de reivindicação. Sem muita margem para duvidas, é dos protestos mais inteligentes que já vi alguma vez. Fico feliz que ainda haja criatividade (o que na verdade é o que mais abunda na periferia), para expressar a tamanha indignação que se vive hoje. Parabéns ao autor anônimo desta ideia! “Acaba de me matar”, acabou de me matar! Éué!!!

After years of working as an artist and, with a clear interest in questions linked to history and social action, I could not avoid expressing my admiration and amazement, with the series of photos of the ‘you just killed me’ challenge that went viral on social media. More than being a sharp protest against the degrading living conditions of the slums in Luanda, ‘you just killed me’ is also a performance act that captures perfectly our thoughts and creations, in such a universe of contemporary art. Despite its extremely violent aesthetic, what it illustrates well is many youths’ despair, we cannot forget that nothing is worse than violence in real life. Because of this, fiction will always be a peaceful way of making statements. Without a doubt, it is among the most intelligent protests that I have ever seen. I’m happy that there is still creativity (which in fact is what most abounds in the periphery), to express such indignation that is experienced today. Congratulations to the anonymous author of this idea! ‘You just killed me’ just killed me! Éué!!!

Angolan rains lead to other pains

Every year the rains expose the weakness of Angola's infrastructure. This year, collapsed bridges and cut roads have been reported as well as interruptions to public services including schools.

On Twitter, some images show the state of roads in the aftermath:

Rains have killed 47 people in the Angolan province of Huambo since September: The current rainy season in Angola led to, since last September, only in Huambo province, a total of 47 deaths and 38 injured, according to …

Citizens have criticized authorities for thwarting their responsibilities as Kambeu De Sousa Tomé emphasized:

Disseram que a culpa é dos cidadãos que constroem em áreas proibidas e desta forma impossibilitando a água fazer o seu percurso normal. No entanto só não disseram qual era o destino da água. Agora vamos aguardar a parte da nossa culpa na crise que assola o país.

They said that the blame is on the citizens who built in prohibited areas and so made the normal flow of water impossible. However they only didn’t say what the final destination of the water was. Now we will wait for our part of the fault in this crisis hitting the country

Today’s rains already took (at least) 3 children: 1 due to a collapsed wall and the other 2 due to drowning. It is so easy to die here and still there are those who are upset by #youjustkilledme

The Angolan government has a history of intolerance for criticism. For example, the government accused activist Rafael Marques of “crimes of offense and outrage against a body of sovereignty” relating to concerns about an article Marques wrote in 2016 criticizing an allegedly unlawful deal involving the former Prosecutor General of the Republic. His case was recently postponed.

Similarly, activists known as the “15+2” group were arrested in 2015 during a meeting of a study group that intended to discuss peaceful methods of protest. They were then sentenced to prison terms of between two and eight years for accusations of attempting a coup d’état. In 2016, the activists’ sentences were changed to house arrest on the Supreme Court’s orders.

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