This Young Boy From Ghana Unknowingly Paid For His Education By Becoming A Meme

by : Francesca Donovan on : 01 Nov 2016 00:00
ghana-young-boy-internet-meme-jakeghana-young-boy-internet-meme-jakeCarlos Cortes

You’ve heard of the face that launched a thousand ships, but this young boy’s face has the power to change his own future.


Jake is from Ghana. He is five-years-old and lives in Asempanaye, a small village in the north of the country surrounded by dense tropical forests, rivers and rushing waterfalls, just a few degrees north of the equator.

Jake’s stern expression made him an overnight internet sensation in Africa, and he has since become a popular meme.

When photographer Carlos Cortes met Jake in 2015 in a small classroom, the photographer was instantly captured by his face; the wisdom in his young eyes and his beautiful clear complexion.


The young boy is described as the pensive type; shy and quiet, according to the BBC.

Cortes has managed to capture Jake’s aura so beautifully in his photography.

So much so that the internet responded in the only way it knows how; by taking Jake’s childlike charm and turning him into a meme.


Others took his portrait and translated it into funny relatable tweets, just like these:



Cortes was in Ghana filming a documentary for self-taught artist and philanthropist, Solomon Adufa.

Adufa was born in a small village, Odumasi, in Ghana and although he now lives and works in Chicago, much of his practice – and his heart – is rooted in Ghana.

So much so, that he runs an outreach programme as part of his Homeland art project in which he teaches young boys and girls how to colour and draw and paint.

It was in one of these classrooms, pencil in hand, that Jake’s global story truly began.

Since Jake’s portrait went viral, Solomon has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the studious young boy’s education as well as resources for all his classmates. Within 24 hours, it had raised $2,000 (£1,642) – 10% of its target.

Solomon said:

This money could make a huge difference to the kids – this could be something really positive going forward.

I will be travelling back to Ghana to the village of Asempanaye to continue teaching the children and providing resources.

Most importantly I would love to help Jake in his education as well as others who are extremely eager to learn.



Cortes added, ‘I remember one day we spent 20 minutes just trying to make sure we had enough pencils for all the kids… That’s what the campaign is really about.’

Carlos and Solomon met many young Ghanaians on their journey. Hopefully the power of the internet will be able to supply them with the education that many of us take for granted.

And considering this all started with a meme, I’ll leave you with this:


Hopefully Jake’s classmates and other young people in Ghana will hear this story.

Maybe it will give them joy and hope, as well as the faith that one tiny moment captured in time is enough to change your life as you know it.

If the internet does nothing else worthwhile in 2016, that’s enough.

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.

Topics: Viral


  1. BBC

    Ghana education: Boy who became a meme raises thousands