The name Jean-Pierre Habiyaremye may not ring a bell to you. But if I said 'Inyogo ye', even with the emphasized Kinyarwanda tone, you would instantly recognize the person behind this meme sensation. Similarly, a quick search for Valentine Nyiransengiyumva on the internet may not yield fruitful results. However, by typing 'Dore imbogo' in your search engine, you'd find over 20 different results related to the person behind this meme, which has also earned her a nickname 'Vava.' ALSO READ: Are Memes an overrated internet sensation? A meme, by definition, is a humorous image, video, or piece of text that is shared and circulated among internet users. To become a meme, it must trend. Meme lords, known for creating and spreading memes, ensure their wide dissemination. Often, they are even taken out of context, remixed with other content, and have new meanings attributed to them in a seemingly funny and relatable manner. Even more recently, memes have become a ubiquitous part of the online ecosystem, serving as a universal language that does not discriminate by age and varies in interpretation. ALSO READ: Who is ‘Dore Imbogo’ singer? However, the people behind some of our favorite memes often remain overlooked. We never know what happens to them once their faces become an internet sensation. This leads to the question, can you lead a normal existence once you become a meme? What happens after you go viral? Surprisingly, many meme personalities, particularly Rwandans, are oblivious to their internet stardom, despite their videos circulating widely for everyone else's amusement. For instance, when internet personality Roberto Helou visited Rwanda and met meme legend Mark Bizagwira, known for his out-of-place 'okay,' Bizagwira had no idea he was a meme legend. ALSO READ: What’s the point of memes? Bizagwira's video went viral when Lilianna Hoga, a California tourist, who had come to visit Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, posted a six-second clip of him smiling and saying 'okay' in response to her greeting. The video garnered hundreds of millions of views, making Bizagwira unwittingly famous for his awkward and hilarious reaction. Ironically, Bizagwira doesn't speak English and simply responded with 'okay' when greeted by the foreign tourists because he doesn't understand them. Back home, in Musanze District, in Northern Province, he is a porter, who, once a week, helps tourists carry supplies when they visit mountain gorillas. Bizagwira is also a farmer, herder, and the town's sole barber, with a personality far from the shy and awkward persona portrayed in the viral video. Bizagwira's story highlights how little we know about the people behind memes, who, on top of it all, even go unpaid for their fame. However, there have also been instances where some individuals have capitalized on their newfound influence to their advantage and derived benefits from it. A notable example is Sunny, who gained widespread attention during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. She became an internet sensation after sharing a video where she humorously referred to herself as the 'Sleeping beauty today, she’s out!'. She said, So today I have my satanizer', wrongly pronouncing a bottle of hand sanitizer she had in her hand. Her video garnered significant traction, thanks to her high-pitched voice and comedic delivery. Although she became more recognized for this video than her musical talent, it didn't leave people indifferent to her artistic abilities. Sunny's online trend captured the attention of A Pass from Uganda, resulting in an interview by the singer. This exposure expanded her reach beyond Rwanda, making her a trending topic across the entire region. She even collaborated with Rwanda's renowned artist, Bruce Melodie, undoubtedly advancing her overall musical journey. Nonetheless, becoming a meme is not a conscious choice but an accidental occurrence. And you might be curious as to how the concept of memes came to be. The origin of memes The term 'meme' originates from the Greek word 'Mimema,' meaning 'Imitated.' British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the phrase in his book 'The Selfish Gene' in 1976. Dawkins used 'memes' to describe the cultural equivalent of genes, presenting the idea that ideas and concepts, like fashion or music, have a life of their own as they spread and mutate from mind to mind within a society. Memes behave similarly to biological genes, with their own reproductive and evolutionary capabilities. Initially, memes were viewed differently, ranging from destructive to neutral or even positive. Some academics likened memes to mental parasites or viruses, emphasizing the potential for misunderstandings or misuse. However, as memes gained popularity in the 21st century, they became more prevalent and, at times, crueler. Memes are easily altered by individuals with cynical motives, and tracking their origins becomes challenging due to their highly shareable nature. Whether memes make the internet a better or worse place, one thing is certain: they don't seem to be in a hurry to go off trend.