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Meet Jake: The darling of social media

Eureka! We found the origin of the pensive looking African boy meme. If you have been searching and wondering about the origin of the famous meme of a young African boy seated at a desk, with a pensive look on his face, frantically writing on a piece of paper, your search is finally over. The boy’s name is Jake. The picture is currently amongst one of the continent’s most famous and widely shared memes and it was taken by Carlos Cortes, an award winning photographer and shared by Ghanaian artist, Solomon Adufah.

An iconic picture depicting a young African boy seated at a desk, with a pensive look on his face, frantically writing on a piece of paper  is currently amongst one of Africa if not the world’s most famous and widely shared memes.

Social media users across Africa have been asking about the origins of this iconic image, the identity of the boy and context within which the image was taken. The picture of the chubby looking boy, has “given life” to many social media users and the image continues to set tongues wagging on the Internet. The picture has been edited and widely shared on various social media platforms.

The image of the 4 year-old boy, named Jake Amo who is pictured engrossed in his writing was shared by Ghanaian artist, Solomon Adufah. Jake is from the village of Asempanaye, Koforidua, in Ghana and the picture was taken by Carlos Cortes, an award winning photographer. Adufah shared the picture on Instagram in January as part of the artist’s ‘homeland series’ where he travels to various communities in Ghana, and other African countries to help underprivileged children in local communities, providing them with resources and teaching creative studies workshops.

The iconic image was taken in August 2015 during Adufah’s visit to his home country Ghana and the artist taught and mentored creative studies and art at Jake’s school in Asempanaye. The 27 year-old artist is currently pursuing fine arts at the University of Illinois, Chicago, in America. The photographer was accompanied by his friend and manager Cortes, who documented Adufah’s work with the children.

Speaking to ThisisAfrica about his journey and experience with the children Adufah said “We spent everyday in class drawing and expanding our creative imaginations. All the children were very eager to learn and ask questions. They wanted to know so much”.

Jack holding some crayons Photo: therealcarloscort/Solomon Adufah/Instagram
Jake holding some crayons Photo credit: Carlos Cortes /Solomon Adufah/Instagram

The pictures featuring Jake have been widely shared and liked on Cortes and Adufah’s Instagram accounts. Presenting Jake, Adufah wrote: “Everyone Say Hi to my buddy Jake. This was moments in Ghana during my Art workshop ???? with the kids. Each kid received brand new set of crayons, pencil colors, pencils, toys and other wonderful goodies. The expressions on their faces were heartfelt. I appreciate you all for making this possible for the children and support my cause”.

Read: ‘Sceptical Third World Child’ meme reignites debate on internet

On Jake’s picture, the one which has gone viral Adufar wrote: “I’ve experienced first hand the impact just the little act of kindness can make in the lives of the less privileged. The amount of joy and happiness they have in their heart despite their living conditions speaks volume about their inner beauty”.

Ever present in class and eager to learn everyday. Photo: Solomon Adufah/Instagram
Ever present in class and eager to learn everyday. Photo credit: Carlos Cortes/Solomon Adufah/Instagram

“Jake was one of the children I taught in Ghana. He was always gentle and quiet.. Ever present in class and was eager to learn everyday. That’s what I loved about all the children. Their enthusiasm and high spirit was refreshing and encouraged me to continue helping them,” Adufah noted.

Adufah says he hopes the image will be a force for positive change, which can transform the life of Jake and the other children. Adufah has started a fundraising campaign for Jake and his classmates.

“I will be returning back to Ghana June of 2017 to continue working with the children and also providing resources for them”.

“My ultimate goal is to build an art school in Ghana or a community Art Center to help children with after school programs,” Adufah told ThisisAfrica.

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