Explaining the Meme: Harambe


Brenna Hildebrand

“Rest in peace Harambe.” Have you ever said this phrase? Even if you’ve never spoken it yourself, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard it before.

But for the few that don’t know, who is Harambe? Harambe was one of the ten endangered silverback gorillas cared for at the Cincinnati Zoo. Earlier this year, he was shot by police when an unsupervised kid fell into his enclosure. The whole incident at the zoo happened on May 28 of this year, but only in these past few months has it begun to pick up traction with the internet.

Harambe’s death sparked an entire movement, protesting the actions taken to kill him. Who was at fault for his death? Many say that the mother of the child displayed bad parenting skills by not watching what her kid (who turned out okay in the end) was doing, which ultimately allowed him to fall into the gorilla enclosure and cause Harambe to get shot and killed.

But like most unusual things, Harambe’s untimely death eventually twisted itself into its own meme. Out of respect for the late gorilla, “RIP HARAMBE” has become a welcome addition to the vocabulary of many teenagers. While I can’t speak on just how sincere all of these sentiments really are, many people, for some reason or another, hail Harambe as a true martyr of this generation.

So why has Harambe reached such hero status with people all around the world? You probably wouldn’t be able to get a definitive answer, but I think one way or another, we can all agree that the world was just a little better when our main gorilla Harambe was still with us. Rest in peace.

•Gavin Klein, [email protected]