Animating Akwaaba and the Birth of the Akwaaba Dance 

The driving force behind this Squid Mag interview with Peter was to understand the foundation for the viral Akwaaba dance. This dance gained global recognition through the visualizer for the song which was produced by Guilty Beatz and features Mr. Eazi, Pappy Kojo and Pataapa. 

It’s easy to credit Poka as the originator of the dance because of the visualiser. In many ways, he deserves that credit because he found an otherwise forgettable gem and made it into a big thing. 

“Akwaaba is Mr. Eazi’s dance. It was in one of his videos for like 5 seconds. Nobody would have seen it. I saw the video, and saw the dance and thought it was cool.Mr. Eazi said he also thought about it so I said let’s give it a shot. It wasn’t my dance. People think I came up with the dance. I simply saw the move and made it a dance.”

The video in question is Pour Me Water. The move that became a phenomenon can be seen on the 4-minute mark for exactly 5 seconds. Highlighting the significance of just 5 seconds to the dance, Kiaski Donkor refers to Jay-Z’s line,  “you made it a hot line and I made it a hot song.” 

The Rise of (Animated) Visualizers

Visualizers have traditionally been colourful waveforms in music players that dance in tune with the music that is playing.

Music visualization

According to Wikipedia, music visualization or music visualisation, a feature found in electronic music visualizers and media player software, generates animated imagery based on a piece of music. The imagery is usually generated and rendered in real-time and in a way synchronized with the music as it is played. 

Reporting on how YouTube visualizers are changing hiphop, High Snobiety writes that, a combination of circumstances “has helped birth the “visualizer,” a cute catch-all term that can describe anything from a colorful, commissioned animation to a filmed non-performance video of the artist with little in the way of moving parts.”

Poka’s first visualizer

Poka got into the visualizer game thanks to Mr. Eazi. He was unfamiliar with the visualizer term as it is used today until Mr. Eazi reached out to him. His reference was a visualizer by Robin Velghe (@RhymezLikeDimez on social media). 

Visualizers are typically short, looping videos and while Poka enjoyed making visualizers like that, he got bored. So he switched things up. 

Pretty Little Fears visualizer by Rhymezlikedimez

“Rhymezlikedimez does original visualizers. Those are what are called visualizers. Visualizers are supposed to be looping videos but mine are more than that. When I did Miss You Bad, my first visualizer, I thought it was a little boring. I don’t like to be stuck with one style. So I thought that I should make it a little more interesting for I Surrender. ”  

Poka’s visualizers have a common theme, simple, fun and memorable dances that somehow translate into viral sensations. Save for the Akwaaba and Pilolo dances, he (arguably) invented the dance moves in his visualizers and has indirectly influenced Afrobeats dance moves because of this. Poka is adamant that he can’t dance at all and that he creates these dances from his imagination. 

“I’m simply goofing off when I animate these moves. Somehow people like them and they blow up.”

Challenges Poka Faces

Poka says his biggest challenge is forming a team to work with. As a one-man army, it’s not difficult to see how that can be a challenge. The rate of being stressed increases, deadlines get harder to meet and an almost non-existent social life are some of the woes you can expect him to have. 

When probed about what was holding him back from forming one, he confesses, “creativity, they lack creativity. But the interns I have now, are pretty much what I expected. I will be working with them.” 


Subscribe to the Squid Mail for updates on all things comic books, animation and video games from Africa.

Squid Magazine