Speaking at the Intra-Africa Trade Fair, 2023, revered playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist, Wole Soyinka, spoke on the circumstances that led to him taking up the role of Kongi in his screenplay-turned-film, “Kongi’s Harvest”.
The film, directed by the deceased Ossie Davis, American Director and Writer, in the 1970s is a satire addressing the role of tyranny in Africa.
At the summit, Soyinka recalled, “In ‘Kongi’s Harvest’, I was not, as you know, supposed to play in that film at all. I was just supposed to assist the director, Ossie Davis, as the consultant, author and so on.
“And we were to have meetings. So, I occupied my creative self in designing the costumes. And I designed that costume. I wanted something which didn’t relate to anything I had seen in all my life. You see, that’s why I’m not a successful fashion designer.
“Including the insignia of Ishmael. And this time , I had to wear what I designed because the actor couldn’t come out of Biafra. It is filmed after the Biafran war or succession. Gauis Anoka who used to be in my acting company and for whom I had partially even written that role that was based on African dictators generally wasn’t cleared.
“And we filmed around all the scenes which didn’t involve Kongi until we had no choice. Ossie Davis had to wrap up and somebody had to play Kongi. I suppose that I was the nastiest looking person on the set and Ossie said, ‘Sorry Wole, you have to take it up.’
“That’s how I came to take up that role. So be very careful when you design. You may end up wearing your own design.”