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Ghanaian Market Woman, Mama Toli Toli, Wins Hearts Nationwide with Her Joyful Singing and Dancing Performances

Meet the Market Woman Who Became an Internet Sensation

Mama Toli Toli, a market woman, has won the hearts of many with her humorous singing and dancing in Ghana. She sells smoked fish in a market in Accra, Ghana’s capital. However, she has now become a sensation on social media, spreading joy through her comedic performances.

Whenever you check your phone, you’re likely to come across Mama Toli Toli and other market women from Makola trending on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Her newfound fame has made her a popular figure. “Since becoming popular, many people have been visiting this market just to see me,” Mama Toli Toli shared with BBC Pidgin. Some come to buy fish, while others come to encourage me to keep entertaining them.

How She Started Singing and Dancing

Originally, Mama Toli Toli’s routine involved going to Makola market every day to sell her smoked fish. The idea to sing and dance came from a man known as ‘Official Starter’, a dancer at the DWP academy in Ghana. He was inspired by his mother, a market woman who passed away in 2020. “My mother inspired me. After she died, I felt energized to start something that would make market women happy because she was also a market woman,” Official Starter told BBC Pidgin. This led to the launch of the ‘happy town project’, which has been a hit on social media.

“One day, Mama Toli Toli decided to sing a song she loved from the radio, despite not knowing the lyrics well. It was Asake’s song, ‘lonely at the top’. After the video went online, people began calling her ‘Mama Toli Toli’. “My real name is Comfort Kotei, but everyone knows me as Mama Toli Toli. I’m the person who has been singing and dancing on TikTok and Instagram,” she said.

Mama Toli and other women at the Makola market find joy in dancing to Ghanaian and Nigerian songs, then sharing these moments on social media.

Public Reaction to Mama Toli Toli and Her Friends

In October 2023, Nigerian superstar Burna Boy showcased Mama Toli Toli and her friends on a billboard at the Makola market after seeing them dance to his song ‘City boy’ in a viral video. Burna Boy wanted to show his appreciation with a prominent billboard at the market entrance in Accra. To this day, the billboard remains, reminding these women of their impact in bringing joy to others.

Mama Toli Toli said, “This is a great thing for my friends and family.”

Mama Toli and Her Group’s Performances

Since the Burna Boy video, these market women have been invited to perform at major events. Mama Toli admitted to being very shy at her first show. “I had never stood in front of such a large crowd before. That day, I was extremely shy. But after hearing people say they enjoyed our entertainment, I became more confident. Now, I perform in front of large audiences,” she told BBC Pidgin.

In December last year, Mama Toli Toli and the market women performed at the MTN festival of nine lessons and carols. The crowd was thrilled to see them on stage. Just last week, they performed at another big event in Accra. “This has changed my life. Since becoming popular, my family, my husband, and my children are proud of me. Other people recognize my efforts too,” Mama Toli Toli added.

Why People Love Her

Mama Toli Toli believes her popularity stems from how she sings songs without knowing the lyrics perfectly. “The songs are in English, and I don’t speak English well, but I love Ghanaian and Nigerian songs,” she said. She also knows she has fans in Nigeria. “People have told me that people in Nigeria like what I do. I want to go there to meet some of the musicians whose songs I sing and make them happy too.”

This is part of the happy town project, where Mama Toli Toli hopes to spread happiness and joy to Nigeria. Meeting Davido, Burna Boy, Asake, and others is her dream.