Well, for starters, the popular phrase, which has become a global meme, emanates from Ghana, West Africa.
The phrase comes from a verse hiplife musician Patapaa delivered on the viral song “Daavi Ne Ba” by Volta Region-based musician Kawoula Biov which was released in April 2019.
The fast-tempo afrobeats jam exploded on the internet after Nigerian musician Mr Eazi uploaded Patapaa’s verse in the music video onto his Instagram page with the caption: “The price just shot up” (he later deleted the post). Other Ghanaian bloggers followed the suit; Twitter and Facebook users did the same, and the song blew up in seconds.
This was followed by a viral challenge called 'Skopatumanachallenge’ where participants filmed themselves rapping to Patapaa’s verse and shared the videos across social media. Thousands of such videos flooded the Internet, especially Instagram.
A few months later, some Ghanaian Twitter users decided to use the phrase as a meme on the micro-blog. Twitter user MercedesSlimBoy was the first person who turned the challenge into a viral meme. He did so by tweeting 'sco pa tu manaa' next to a snapshot showing a sign that promoted the religious services of a church in Ghana.
That was when Patapaa ousted popular Twitter phrases; ‘unpopular opinions’ and ‘o je wa ke eng’ (which translates as ‘what’s bothering you?’).
While ‘unpopular opinions’ memes cast light on trivia matters and more of nostalgic moments, ‘o je wa ke eng’ delved deep into people’s lives, casting light on some horrible stories and inspiring experiences the world would have never heard of.
However, Patapaa’s ‘sco pa tu mana’ phrase, which had no meaning, or can be used as a synonym of ‘unpopular opinion’, came with a different story. It had two sides; good and evil. While the phrase allows many Twitter users to share their opinions, praises and inspiring stories, Internet trolls used it as an opportunity to harass people they hate.
For instance, a ‘sco pa tu mana’ meme for media personality Nana Aba Anamoah – who is hated by many social media users for frequently blocking people who challenge her opinions – ended up in a nasty manner. Another one for comedian DKB – who shares a similar trait with Nana Aba Anamaoh – turned noxious. It was simply a tool for targeted harassment and hate speech – an act which goes against Twitter’s community guidelines.
But the good side of the phrase dwarfed the bad side.
The phrase grew from just being a local thread and memes to become a globally accepted meme, crossing the shores of Ghana to other regions in Africa, and subsequently America and Europe.
A crowdsourced online dictionary for slangs and phrases, Urban Dictionary, added the phrase to its online dictionary. The top definition describes it as: “A word originated by the Ghanaian hiplife act, Patapaa Amisty. It is literally meaning and gibberish. It has also gone viral on Twitter and is mostly posted with a picture just to express opinion or experience.”
It grabbed the attention of the international press including Indian newspaper The Indian Express, UK tabloid The Tab, UK newspaper The Sun, popular UK news portal LADbible, US news portal The Daily Dot, and Spanish newspaper El Mundo. Popular online forums, Quora and Reddit, discussed on the platforms.
Last week, American pizza chain Domino’s Pizza hopped on the trend.
Spanish club Atlético de Madrid also joined the craze.
Despite the delirium, some foreigners who aren’t familiar with the phrase got confused.
Popular American YouTube Kathleen Lights tweeted: “I see the words sco pa tu manaa every day on Twitter and I never know what it means!!!!!!!!!!”
Spanish playwright Guillem Clua asked: “An older gentleman needs you to tell him what this "sco pa tu manaa" is about. Well, I'm going to tell you, the older man is me.”
Others found the phrase annoying.
But regardless of how old, boring and irritating the phrase has become, Patapaa has incontrovertibly become a global meme and has left an indelible ink on the Internet.