The U.S. premiere of the FOKN Bois film Coz ov Moni 2 (FOKN Revenge) had the feel of history in the making. For those not in the know, this duo from Ghana with a cleverly rude stage name—their “real” names are Wanlov the Kubolor and Mensa—are making some of the most provocative, innovative, musical and loveably hilarious contemporary art out of Africa these days. It’s part African Brothers, part Fela, part Shakespeare, part Laurel and Hardy (or Beavis and Butthead), and a touch of Monty Python—all with hip-hop flavor and savvy, satirical edge to rival South Park or Steven Colbert. Now how many African acts—or, really, acts anywhere—can you say that about?
The new film is a continuation of the world’s first “Pidgin musical,” with a loosely plotted story that follows the Bois attempt at gaining revenge for the whooping they took in Part One. Nearly all the dialogue is rapped or sung, and the songs from the film are even more catchy and memorable than the first batch. From the defiant “Wicked People” to the buoyant “Market Lady” to a terrific send-up of Ghana’s Azonto dance craze (in which “Azonto” becomes “I don’t know”), these numbers will move dancing feet and, for those closely following the ridiculously thorough English subtitles, take you into a delightfully revealing comic universe.
Those lucky enough to fill the seats at Cantina Royal in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for Afropop’s premiere remained rapt through nearly two hours of FOKN madness as parts one and two were screened back to back. The sense of discovery was palpable as mini-skirted nuns wiggled their tushes and intoned, “All men are lost these days,” followed by, “Amen, our god is great.” In what passes for a FOKN Bois inspirational song, a merry crew of dancers dressed all in white chant, “This world is something. One day you will be nothing, inside a coffin rotting. Do something before you die. Do something before you die.”
On a road trip to Tema, the Bois run into a barrage of police harassment, but the song they sing is more than an anti-cop rant, its refrain saying, “The police no good, but it no good for police. The government does not pay them…” In perhaps the most surreal episode, Wanlov goes to Transylvania—logical, as he is half-Romanian—for an epic showdown: “Count Dracula vs Kweku Anantse.” Who will win? Come and see. Wanlov plays both roles and the banter between the two fictional figures is so rich with double entendres, inside jokes and clever references that you can watch it over and over and find more in their word play each time.
The brilliance of the FOKN Bois is that they fire on all levels: strong songs, terrific production, an ability to draw from a huge variety of musical genres, unmatched word play, and above all, fearlessness in their satirical mission. They can broach sensitive subjects of sexuality, the corruption of police and pastors (and others), government failures, the African fascination with foreign things, etc.—but they do it in the guise of two clever, hopeful guys that you can’t help rooting for. Even their long-awaited moment of vengeance comes with a light touch as they boast, “We go grapple ‘til you grovel and gobble gravel.”
It seems a certainty that the FOKN Bois will find a much larger audience once more people in this country are exposed to them—and they are quite willing, even eager, to expose themselves. For those wanting a head start, Afropop has a handful of the first DVD copies of Coz ov Moni 2, for just $20. You can’t see it anywhere else. So get one while you can!
You can pay for those orders here. Simply be sure to include “For a copy of Coz ov Moni 2” in the comments section.