Ghanaian rappers Wanlov The Kubolor and M3nsa, called the FOKN Bois, are presenting the sequel of the first pigdin musical in African movie history. In Coz of Moni II [FOKN Revenge] they are commenting on Ghana today: congregational chapels, commercialization, corruption and homophobia. Nana Darkoa, a feminist blogger, went to Wanlov for a short visit during the last cuts of his film.
I watched Coz Ov Moni II [FOKN Revenge] in Wanlov’s home studio in Dzorwolu, Accra, Ghana. Wanlov was still in the process of editing the film. I was curious as to why he was doing the editing himself; «because I am anal» he said and laughed. We talked about the film afterwards, and he showed me one of the scenes he had removed from the film, «No, you’ve got to put that back in» I said. He called his partner M3nsa as I was leaving, «Our dicks are back in the film».
Coz Ov Moni II [FOKN Revenge] is a follow up to Coz Ov Moni, a pidgin musical starring M3nsa and Wanlov the Kubolor. FOKN Revenge does exactly what it says on the tin – the Bois rap, sing and dance their way through the streets of Accra and Tema in an effort to seek revenge on the armed robbers who kwashayed (attacked) them in the final scenes of Coz Ov Moni. People watching Coz Ov Moni II will not need to watch part 1 to burst out with laughter or to notice the strong social commentary, or to enjoy the well produced music that drives the beat of the film.
Corrupt police offers and Count Dracula
The opening scenes of Coz Ov Moni II sets the pace for the key issues that the FOKN Bois highlight during the film. Corruption is clearly an issue of concern to the duo and this comes through in the satirical portrayal of a corrupt pastor as well as the depiction of bribe-taking police officers. This focus is well balanced by recognition of what leads to corruption. The Felaesque song in the scene where police offers stop the trotro (a cheap form of public transport) driver travelling from Accra to Tema goes like this:
The police know good, but e no good for police
The government no dey give dem pay
Enough to buy common ken key
There is no doubt that the FOKN Bois are currently two of Ghana’s most innovative musicians, or in the case of Wanlov the Kubolor, a Ghanaian/Romanian musician. Wanlov’s Romanian heritage plays out in Coz Ov Moni II in a dream sequence when the Bois become Kwaku Ananse, the famed African spider trickster, and Count Dracula, the blood sucking vampire of Romanian lore. No prizes for guessing who plays which role.
A Sauna Session with Consequences
In Ghana the FOKN Bois are regarded as a controversial duo. Most recently this controversy has revolved around a leaked nude picture of the duo at a sauna in Finland. A representative of The Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) is on record as stating, «The pictures are in bad taste. Artists do all sorts of things for various reasons. Some to enhance their popularity and things like that but in a nutshell, I would say that it is rather unfortunate.»
If you didn’t know what M3nsa and Wanlov thought about MUSIGA before watching Coz Ov Moni II the crumpled newspaper with the MUSIGA headline on the floor of the traditional pit latrine toilet might just give you a clue. And in case you miss this allusion, the ‘Expensive Shit’ sign on the public toilet may just drive home the point.
A year or so ago in Ghana the country seemed to be in a grip of a homophobic frenzy. Newspapers were filled with screaming headlines condemning homosexuals, followed by reports of gay people being attacked in places like Jamestown in Accra. The only musicians I recall condemning the virulent homophobia at the time were the FOKN Bois.
In a similar departure from conventional Ghanaian storytelling, Coz Ov Moni II does not portray Ghana as a purely hetero-normative society. In one memorable scene where the Bois give us a flash of their «goods», we see the duo being rejected by two women, the implication being that the women preferred the company of each other.
Ghana-Portrait with Celebs
For people who do not know Ghana, Coz Ov Moni gives an insight into contemporary Ghanaian culture. There are memorable scenes of a traditional Ghanaian funeral, a busy market and the scenic beach road from Accra to Tema. For those knowledgeable about current Ghanaian hip-hop you will appreciate cameos by the likes of Yaa Pono, Macho Rapper and Awal. Many personal friends of M3nsa and Wanlov acted in the film including Mutombo Da Poet and Glen also known as the Sankwas Bois, as well as the photographer Kwam 1, and Grace Aba Ayensu, the pop culture academic.
Akosua Adoma Owusu, the award winning film director behind the contemporary fable of KWAKU Ananse popped into the studio while I was watching Coz Ov Moni II and I asked her to share her thoughts on the film with me. In her own words: «I see a lot of growth from the first film. Making a musical in your native tongue is not an easy thing, and doing this as well as Wanlov and M3nsa have just shows how lyrical, poetic and talented they both are.»
Clearly Wanlov agrees. When asked why anyone should go and watch this film he responded laughingly, «Cos we are the best».