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Pope Francis is finishing up his trip around Africa with a visit to the Central African Republic. While he was there Gianluigi Guercia, a photographer working for the AFP, took a photo of him gesturing while giving a blessing at a displaced persons camp.

This photo:


Twitter users saw this photo and thought "the Pope sure looks like he's dropping a freestyle verse." Thus #PopeBars was born.

“Who shot Biggie Smalls, if we don’t get them, they gon’ get us all”

— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) November 30, 2015

As the name suggests, the hashtag consists almost entirely of people appending pontifical raps to this photo of Francis holding a microphone. A lot have been surprisingly funny.


According to Topsy the first #PopeBars tweet seems to have come from a Malawian Twitter account called @CurateMW that's run by a different Malawian each week. At the moment it's being operated by a guy named Gome, who posted the following:

From there, it spread elsewhere, particularly to parts of southern Africa and Rwanda:

In the past few hours, the rest of the world has been playing catch-up:

“Walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I exist even when no things are left” #popebars #jeru

— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) November 30, 2015

“I did it, but the devil didn’t make me/
I did it for the suckers who tried to shake and bake me“

— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) November 30, 2015

At this point there are just shy of 9000 tweets using the hashtag, so you can peruse to your heart's content. A fair share of them are just people reacting excitedly (expect plenty of 🔥to turn up in search), but there's also more than enough lyrical work. For my money, though, this early one takes the gold:

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at