Kongi's Harvest (1970) - full transcript

(percussive music)

- Once upon the continent of Africa

lived a little kingdom newly freed

from colonial exploitation.

It was called the Republic of Isma.

It had a king, Oba Danlola,

who was spiritual head of all the people.

But it also had a president, Kongi,

who was political head of all the people.

One head too many, even
for Isma, as you will see.

(percussive music)
(people chattering)

(people shouting)

Today is the eve of the
Festival of the New Yam.

(percussive music)

The people from all over Isma

are gathering in preparation
for tomorrow's feast.

(percussive music)

The people of Isma are farmers.

To them, the fruits of the soil are holy,

and none more so than the yam.

The royal yam.

Majestic tuber.

Gift of the African gods,

which has fed the people,
spiritually and physically,

for countless generations.

(upbeat trumpet music)

(speaking foreign language)

The first yam of the
season is always sacred,

and none but the lord's
anointed may taste of it.

But who is the lord's anointed?

Who would be the first
to taste of the new yam

at tomorrow's festival?

Will it be Danlola, who is
now in a detention camp?

(crowd cheering)

Or will it be Kongi, who is now

proclaiming still another decree?

- My dear fellow Ismaites,
I hereby decree this day

a holiday for all our people.

I also decree that the
people's traditional

Festival of the New Yam,

which marks the beginning of harvest,

be now incorporated fully
into Isma's national day,

and celebrated at a simple ceremony.

This decision confirms our faith

in the tradition and
culture of our people,

and I resolve to preserve such aspects

as fully reflect the
progressive image of our nation.

It is my wish, also,
that when this message

is transmitted to you,

I shall have retired to a quiet retreat

for a period of fasting and meditation.

(people shouting)

In our envisioned march
towards the future,

we must not wantonly destroy the past.

Only rescue it from bigotry, superstition,

decadence, and reactionism.

I, and my newly created
committee of advisers,

the reformed Aweri fraternity,

shall deliberate on the
problems which now beset us,

and shall find solutions
towards the achievement

of that goal of national prosperity,

which I am sure is so
dear to all our hearts.

Although I'm shut away in this quiet place

for this important period of reflection,

I shall not be far away from you.

(people shouting)

- [Commander] Brigade, fall in!

- [Narrator] Alone, as befits
his most exalted station,

Kongi climbs to his retreat,

with the reformed Aweri fraternity,

his confidential advisers,

all wise and all wet, close at his heels.

- [Man] You think Kongi
expects us to fast with him?

- Do you doubt it?
- Quiet!

- [Commander] Forward march!

Left right, left right,
left right, left right,

left right, left right,
left right, left right,

left right, left right,
left right, left right,

left right, left right, left right.

Left right, left right, left right.


- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

- Ismaite.
- Ismaite.

(all cheering)
- Long live Kongi!

- [Narrator] The organizing secretary,

Kongi's presidential aide
and jack of all politics,

sends his secret agents
on a secret mission,

and seeks the help of the
reformed Aweri fraternity.

- Well, what is it?

- A small earthbound problem.

Perhaps you'd care to
give it your attention.

- We're very busy, can't it wait?

- Kongi thinks it's somewhat urgent.

- [Man] Why didn't you say so at once?

Tell us the leader's wishes?

- The new yam, the president
wants you to find a way

to make Oba Danlola give up

the ritual of the new
yam to him, our leader.

(crowd clamoring)

- That's better now.

Some of you think this place is a market.

Well, it is not.

It happens to be a detention camp.

(upbeat trumpet music)
(percussive music)

- Where is the gate man?

Ah, there he is.

Are you the gate man?

Oh down, do, do, do, shut up!

Ah, that's enough!

Look, are you the gate man?

- I am the camp officer.

- Very good, open your gate.

We have the pass.

- Show me.

- Ah.

(speaking foreign language)

What is it?

Is that it?

I thought I lost it.

- What is this?

- Read it.

- But it doesn't say how many.

- What's the matter?

- Well, I will allow you in,

but the others have to stay behind.

- Why?

- Because I say so.

(speaking foreign language)

- Dende, read it out.

I can't read, what does it say?

- It says, "For the family of Oba Danlola,

"valid for one visit."

- But it doesn't say how many.

- And so?

- And so, I have to use my discretion.

- Dis, discretion?

What is so-called discretion?

It says for the family
of Oba Danlola, right?

We are his family.

These are his wives.

Come on, come on, come
on, salute the big man.

Those are his musicians,
and his household servants.

And I am his brother, and a
royal personage in my own right.

Well, what does your
discretion say to that?

- Well, the musicians have to stay behind.

And I certainly wouldn't
allow these women in.

What do you take this place for, anyway?

(speaking foreign language)

- What is the matter with this man?

Do you expect a king like Oba Danlola

to have the kind of family you can count

on the fingers of one hand?

(horn blaring)

(people chattering)

- Right, open the gates there.

Let them in.

All right, where are your people?

- We are all here.

- Well, tell them to come in.

(speaking foreign language)

(people chattering)

Hey, you.

You are not coming with them.

- But I'm the town crier.

- Look here, are you trying to tell me

all these came with you?

- We're all children of Oba Danlola.

Eh my Willy boy?

(crowd cheering)

- Sarumi, how did you do it?

The town must be empty to
look at everybody here.

- For that, we have to
thank your son in politics.

- The organizing secretary?

- The same, kabisi.

- Come.

Get up.

I beg of you, do get up.

What is the man up to?

He never allowed me so
many of you before now.

- This time, the pass says

for the entire family of Oba Danlola,

and as you can see, I've
brought the entire family.

- The man still believes
in the power of bribes.

- Bribes, kabisi?

Not a penny.

Even when we had a little
trouble with the gate man,

his two assistants just came up,

whispered something to
him, and here we are.

- Oh no, you don't understand.

You are the bribe.

Come on, come on, come on,

let's go to my private courtyard.

Then you can give me the latest gossip.

How's your son?

- Prince Daudo, the son in question,

and heir to Danlola's
throne, is at this moment

entering the sacred shrine,

where only virgins have ever been allowed

with Segi, Kongi's ex-concubine.

- It makes double sacrilege
bringing you here.

First, you're a woman,

and then you are no virgin.

Such elaborate trickery,

just to hold the world
in fear and subjection.

- [Segi] Will Kongi
really destroy all this?

- [Daudo] No, he'll
just give it a new name,

like the Center for Scientific
Divination, or something.

- Let's go, before someone returns.

- They'll be a long time yet.

My uncle is not an easy man to persuade.

- Would you have gave up so easily?

(Daudo chuckles)

It gets in your blood, doesn't it?

- What does?

- Kingship.

(Daudo laughs)

- I haven't noticed it when I bleed.

Let's ask this royal rooster.

Well, how does it feel
to be uncrowned, eh?

Do you want to see 300
years of the partnership

of kingship and priesthood, do you?

All right, I'll show you.

(chains rattle)

Chains and manacles for the king's slaves.

- Anyway, it was a long time ago.

- No more gods, old or new.

(both laughing)

- This is the place to learn

about the real affairs of the
state, in a detention camp.

(crowd chattering)

This, my brother, is the
resting place of many

who got to know too much.

- The organizing secretary
came begging on his knees.

Take everybody, he says, anybody you like.

His wives, his children, anybody!

Go and beg him to see reason
and cooperate with us.

- I can imagine it.

When he wants something bad enough,

he doesn't spare himself.

Well, let us enjoy the
last few hours of comfort.

You see how well they treat me?

My own courtyard for private strolls,

and in my chalet, every possible amenity

not to mention the
occasional night visitors.

Which, as the secretary said,

are not exactly permitted by regulation.

(all laughing)

- I must confess, kabisi,
this detention center

seems to look well on you.

- But so does captivity look well

on a lamb we are fattening
up for the feast.

Or perhaps, as you say, on a wife

we treat with special favor?

Because she's going to bear us a child.

What happens when the great day comes,

and there is only a
calabash under the wrapper?

- Kabisi?

- It's no use, Sarumi.

You know I wouldn't change my mind.

My ancestors would rise and curse me.

- Kabisi, after tomorrow these people

are not going to be easy to deal with.

- Well, that is only fair.

I have not, as the organizing
secretary tells me,

been easy to deal with.

- Kabisi, I am frightened.

Sometimes I think I am
wetting my lower regions

just to think of it.

(both chuckle)

And this old man, this old man Kongi,

I don't think he ever had a mother.

No, I'm sure of it, he never had a mother.

- I must admit that I
sometimes think he cut his way

from the womb with his teeth.

(both laughing)

You know, Kongi's abnormal offspring

compare with some strange fruits,

to which trees give birth these days.

(trumpet blares)

(crowd laughing)

- Space is barren, idiot.

Does that speech reflect
the spirit of harvest?

I want a speech that bleeds
the spirit of harvest.

What has the moon to do
with harvest, or space?

Void, gulf.

Other than there is some yawning
void waiting to be filled.

Am I the president to an astronaut?

- I thought, or we thought.

No, it was my number 11
suggestion, my president.

He thought a touch of modern achievement,

exploration of space, my president,

bringing the two together.

A harvest of man's scientific spirit.

Of course, it was my number 11's idea.

- Space is barren, idiot.

There is no harvest from space.

When it falls to the senseless

junketing around the universe,

when starvation makes
its pitiless scribble

on the faces of the peoples of the world,

we consider ourselves the spokesman

for the underprivileged
peoples of the world,

and set ourselves against the
callous indifference of those

whose very wealth and progress

have been achieved by
ruthless exploitation

of the impoverished and
downtrodden peoples of the world.

We are opposed to...

Were you not writing all that down?

- I've got it down by heart,
my president, word for word!

- [Kongi] Let me hear it.

- Space is barren, idiot.

I beg your pardon, my president.

- It's not his spiritual rivals alone

who have felt the sharp
edge of Kongi's power.

Dr. K.E. Gbenga, Segi's father,

and leader of the loyal
opposition is also behind bars,

awaiting Kongi's pleasure.

- I felt I should bring
you the news myself.

Kongi has signed your execution order,

and tomorrow you will hang in the square.

It does not pay to oppose
the will of the state.

That is what I want you
all to learn the hard way.

(man chuckles)

Goodbye, Dr. Gbenga.

- Kabisi, Kongi is fasting.

He's sworn not to break his fast

until he's tasted the
first of the new yam.

He'll break his fast on that, or nothing.

- Then I hope he finds the
mountain air nourishing.

- Kabisi, is this detention camp air

nourishing to the throne?

- What will you have me do?

- Kabisi, what does the new yam signify

in the mouth of a madman?


Is it not better that Kongi should have

the first of the new yam,
rather than that he should

make the royal crown a cooking pot?

- My crown.

This crown.

Someone tell me what this
is I have in my hands.

(speaking foreign language)

Remind me what this is.

Remind me what is this thing,

handed down to me by my forefathers.

Do you see in my hands
a cooking pot for Kongi?

(speaking foreign language)

(upbeat music)

(singing in foreign language)

- Oba Danlola, what do you
people think you're doing here?

What's going on here?

- You stop the royal drums?

- I shall speak to the
organizing secretary about this.

- You can speak of nothing!

You better stop the drums a long time ago.

And you, the slave in
khaki and brass buttons

merely lick your master's feet,

and both we chew on the same tobacco!

- You better warn him!

(people chattering)

- We do not hear the jackals
call when the father speaks.

- I shall put an end to this.

- But listen, my good friend...

- No, no, you listen.

The national anthem.

The president is about to broadcast.

(dramatic music)

- [Kongi] My dear
countrymen, great nation,

the Republic of Isma.

And therefore decree that
the spirit of harmony

shall be widely disseminated,

I further decree, in acknowledging
their past contributions,

and hopeful of their dignified
and valuable participation

in the future of the nation,

I call upon the obas and chiefs,

on the entire kingship institution

to embrace this nation
in the spirit of harmony.

In pursuance of which I hereby decree,

and this shall be known as
the decree of preservation,

it is furthered.

Now this decree hereby
aggregates decree number 47,

decree number 101, decrees
numbers 283 to 316 inclusive.

All these decrees are herewith aggregated,

and in their place, the following decrees

shall come into immediate effect.

For it is our duty to
extricate such traitors

and agents of subversion,

these shameless tools of imperialism,

neocolonialism, termites, locusts,

pests, and poisonous rodents,

who seem to undermine the golden fruition

of the harvest of the people.

It is therefore decreed that,

as a warning to all
other enemies of state,

these recent saboteurs
shall be publicly hanged.

(people shouting)
(intercom squealing)

- Come back here, you!

- [Kongi] Which, taken together
with decree number 209,

333, and decree number...
(radio clicks)

- And to think he wants
to eat the new yam.

Can a man eat the new
yam with bloody teeth?

- No, Kabisi, heaven forbid it.

- That cobra's whip, that rabid hyena!

Kongi, he eat the new yam?

- Kabisi.
(crowd chanting)

- Kabisi, is that not our national flag?

- Of course.

Did you not deprive me
of my national trousers?

- Yes, to keep you from escaping.

- The nude shanks of a king
is not a sight for children.

It will blind them.

(crowd shouting)

- We shall soon see about that.

(crowd groaning)

Do you want to cost me my job, do you?

- It was our fathers who said, not I,

"A crown is a burden when the king

"visits his favorite's chambers.

"When the king's wrapper
falls off in audience,

"wise men know he wants to be left alone."

So, sh sh sh sh.

- Too much indulgence.

That's why.

It's the fault of the
organizing secretary,

permitting your wives, and
all these creatures to visit.

And you're not even grateful!

(crowd booing)

- Are you or he the man to
stop me breaking out of camp?


What says the camp officer?

(crowd shouting)

- Kabisi.

- But he says I must.

Let me prostrate myself to him.

- I did not make any
impious demand of you.

All I asked was for more respect

for constitutional authority.

I didn't ask for a curse on my head.

- Curse?

Who spoke of curses?

To prostrate to a loyal servant of Kongi?

Is that a curse?

(crowd shouting)
- Kabisi!

- Only a foolish child allows his father

to prostrate to him.

I do not ask to become
a leper or a lunatic.

I have no wish to live on sour berries.

- All is well.

The guard has now waived
his rights and privileges.

Father now prostates himself in gratitude.

- I've waived nothing!

I had nothing to waive!

Nothing to excuse.

I deny any right!

I ask you not to cast any
sort of damnation on my head!

- Oh, but what a most suspicious mold.

Other have used for custom man.

Social damnations?

If I were truly capable of
that, would I now be here,

thanking you for little acts of kindness,

flat on my face?

(crowd shouting)

- I call you all to witness Kabisi.

I'm only the foul droppings

that stuck to your slippers

while you strolled in the backyard.

- Don't be angry with him, Oba Danlola.

Don't be angry with your son.

When the baobab tree shakes her head,

what chance has the rodent
when an earring falls

and hits the earth with thunder?

- He paraded me to the world stark naked.

I leave this abuse to the judgment of...

- Plead with him.

Please intercede.

- Kabisi, we only use a
little stick on our son.

We do not call the policeman
to take him to jail.

Please, do not give voice

to the awesome names on another's tongue.

When you feel kinder, they
cannot so easily be recalled.

Ah, Danlola my father.

Even so did I wish your
frown of thunder away,

when the old Aweri were
driven from the ancient grove.

Then you said...

- This is the last that
we shall dance together.

They say we took too much
silk for the royal canopy,

but the dead will witness,

we never ate the silkworm.

- This is the last our
feet shall touch together.

With other tune a bit to the soul,

but the drums are newly shaped.

And stiff arms strain on stubborn crook,

so down with the left foot for ill luck.

With the left again for ill luck.

Once again, with the left alone

for disaster is the
only certainty we know.

(percussive music)

(singing in foreign language)

(engine roaring)

- Scientific exorcism!

Scientific exorcism correctly interprets

our leader's decision
to have the saboteurs

hang in public tomorrow.

(all shouting)

Not to mention the fact
that scientific exorcism

can be identified as a
part of the principle

of positive scientificism.

A principle which...

(all groan)

(man laughs)

- You thought it was
the leader, didn't you?

Now, gentlemen, do tell a poor layman

what exactly is a positive scientificism?

- [Man] What have you got in that box?

(man laughing)

- This is what we get for supper?

- Ooh, some toast, some toast.

Application of mind over
matter turns the crust

into a sumptuous banquet.

Now, this here loaf could be a rump steak,

or a succulent rib.

Or a roast turkey?

- Stop it.

- What?

What was I doing?

- Don't do it, stop it, I said!

- Quite right.

That's not a decent thing
to do to a starving man.

- Ah, correction.

You're not starving, you're fasting.

(man laughs)

(door slams)

- What news, secretary?

- No news, sir.

What I mean, sir, is that
the king is very stubborn.

- I know the king is very stubborn.

I asked, what news?

You know what it would mean
if I, Kongi the president,

went to the festival
and Danlola, the king,

as you call him, did not come?

- Yes sir, but that cannot
be allowed to happen.

- It will not be allowed
to happen, my president.

- There is still 20 hours to the ceremony.

- Yes sir, I have no doubt sir,

that he will soon come
around to cooperate with us.

- But, why is he so difficult?

Did he not listen to my broadcast?

- Yes sir, and I have no doubt
that it is working on him.

The spirit of harmony must penetrate him

before the night is out.

- Do you mean to tell me that
the reformed Aweri fraternity

here assembled cannot
find a way to make one

weak, old, decrepit man
conform to the national will?

- Has the secretary really tried

the third degree, my president?

- Useless, sir, when I
threatened him with torture,

he said to me, "I'm an old man.

"If you torture me,
I'll agree to anything,

"but when it comes to
the avenging public."

- Enough.

Pass the supper.

Our fasting ends tomorrow.

This is our last supper together.

Do you see,

what I request is so simple?

Just as the secretary here
passes this loaf to me,

in view of you all,

even so do I demand that
Danlola hand me the new yam

in full view of the assembled people.

A simple gesture, but a symbolic one.

(upbeat music)

I want a half hourly report

on the state of mind of Danlola.

- Yes, your excellency.

(door slams)

- You may start, gentlemen.

All powers must come
under one directing mind.

The king cannot continue to claim

spiritual leadership of the people.

He must submit.

When all forces, secular and spiritual,

creative and intellectual,

are gathered up with one directing mind,

that is the true harmony of power.

(upbeat music)
(people chattering)

- I'd like a word with you, in private.

- You can see I am
occupied, Mr. Secretary.

- I didn't mean you, madam.

I meant your boyfriend.

- He's busy, too.

- [Secretary] Madam, I haven't
come here to make trouble.

- You couldn't, even if you wanted to.

- I wouldn't be too sure of that.

- I would.

- What do you want with me?

- Oh, not here.

Let's find somewhere quiet.

(upbeat music)
(people chattering)

Your uncle.

You're Daudo, aren't you?

Son of Sarumi by his wife number six,

and Oba Danlola is your uncle,

and you're the heir
apparent to his throne,

and I have come to tell you

that your uncle is a damn stubborn goat.

An obstructive, cantankerous creature,

and a bloody pain in my neck.

- I'm sorry to hear that.

- Don't waste my time with apologies.

You know who I am, of course.

- I don't believe so.

- Organizing secretary to the leader.

Those two, the right
and left ears of state.

The combination keeps the
country none aligned, understand?

- I think so.

- And your guardian and
uncle is a pain in my neck.

Now tell me, what has he up his sleeves?

- Up his sleeves?

- Up those sleeves of his.

What is he hiding in there for tomorrow?

- I thought he'd been in
detention for nearly a year.

- That doesn't stop him
from messing me about.

It only gives him an alibi.

- Hadn't you better turn him loose, then?

- Hm, I might do that.

Yes, I might do that.

(upbeat music)

Oh I see there have been some changes here

since they last closed it down.

- It's all her work,
the lady of the house.

- [Secretary] Ah yes, tragic business eh?

She's a very courageous woman.

- [Daudo] What makes you say that?

- Why isn't it obvious?

Her father, condemned
to be executed tomorrow.

And yet, here she is,
business open as always.

That's what I call courage, defiance.

(upbeat music)

I came here with a proposal.

- Which you haven't made.

- This should interest her.

- Shall I call her over?

- No, you can tell her later, if you want.

- Well, the proposal?

- Five men are awaiting execution.

- We know that.

- Too bad.

There is a way out, of course.

They can, all five of them, be reprieved.

- Reprieved?

- Reprieved.

All it requires is that your
uncle cooperate with us.

That tomorrow at the festival,

he hand over the new yam to Kongi.

Think about it.

I'll be back in an hour.

(people chattering)

(upbeat music)

(crickets chirping)

- Well?

- Well, what I was about to say

is I have found a way,
I think, depending...

- Depending on what, Mr. Secretary?

- Depending on you, my leader.

- On me?

On you, depending on you as
the organizing secretary.

You and the Aweri.

- Yes, of course my leader.

That is what I mean.

Depending on us, my leader.

- [Kongi] I thought so.

I can't hear voices.

- I think they are meditating, my leader.

- Meditating is my province.

They are here to hold disputations,

and anyway, they are fast asleep.

- I think you're right, they are sleeping.

- They're always sleeping.

What is the matter with them?

- I heard one or two of them
mention hunger, my leader.

- Hunger?

They're fed.

I see to their food myself.

- I think they haven't got
used to the diet, my leader.

- Then they're greedy guts.

I eat nothing at all.

- Not everyone can be a Kongi, my leader.

(people shouting)

Can you hear them, my leader?

- Hm?

- Your carpenter's brigade.

They have been keeping vigil with you

at the foot of the mountain.

- An inspired creation
of mine, don't you think?

- They will lay down their
lives for you, my leader.

- I trust no one.

(people shouting)

- [Man] Hey, Kongi!

Come on, come on, come on.


(singing in foreign language)

- They will be in attendance tomorrow?

- Need you ask that, my leader?

- They complement my sleepy Aweri.

One looks after my
intellectual requirements.

The brigade take care of my need

for a harmonious existence.

- They will not be required
tomorrow, my leader.

- Just the same, let them stand by.

Nothing must disturb the
harmony of the occasion.

I like that song.

- It is an invocation
to the spirit of harvest

to lend you strength, my leader.

(crowd cheering)

- I am the spirit of harvest!

- Of course, my leader.

(crowd cheering)

- I am the spirit of harvest!

I'm the spirit of har-vest!

- Of course, my leader.

And a benevolent spirit of harvest.

This year shall be known as
the year of Kongi's harvest.

Everything shall date from it.

(crowd shouting)

- Who thought that up?

- Oh, it is amongst the surprise gifts

we have planned for our beloved leader.

I shouldn't have let it slip up like that.

- You mean, something like 200 KH?

- AH, my leader.

After the harvest, in
1,000 years, 1,000 AH,

and last year shall be
referred to as 1 BH.

There will be only the one harvest

worth remembering, my leader.

- No, KH is less ambiguous.

The year of Kongi's harvest.

Then, for the purposes of backdating, BKH,

before Kongi's harvest.

There is no need to conform

to the habit of two initials only.

You lack imagination.

- It shall be as you please, my leader.

- Now you see why it is
all the more important

that everything goes forward tomorrow,

exactly as I wish it?

I want the entire nation
to subscribe to it.

Go and wake up those hogs.

- It will not be necessary, my leader.

I think the little problem of Oba Danlola

is nearly solved.

- Another of your ideas.

- Leave it all to me, my leader.

I ought to mention another matter.

I have reason to believe
that a press photographer

might find his way into your retreat,

in spite of all our
precautions for your privacy.

- I don't like being photographed.

- A foreign journalist, one of the best.

I've seen some of his
work, the work of a genius.

He has photographed at
least nine heads of state.

- It would be a most
unwarrantable intrusion.

- I'll ensure it never
happens again, my leader.

- Take care of it, and let me
hear no more on the subject.

- Yes, my leader.

If I may remind you of the
question of amnesty, my leader.

- I leave that to you.

Release all those who've
served their court sentences.

- [Secretary] Too trivial
a gesture, my leader.

Too trivial for one who holds
the power over life and death.

- What do you have in mind, exactly?

- The men awaiting execution, my leader.

- I thought so.

Who put you up to it?

- Another of my ideas, my leader.

- I like the ones that went
before, but not this one!

- The presiding spirit of harvest,

as a life giving spirit,

you could project that image
into every heart and head,

no matter how stubborn.

Such a gesture would even break
the back of the opposition.

A contemptuous gift of life would ensure

that their menace is not
worthy of punishment.

- Tell you what.

You get the leaders of
all the dissident groups

to appear with me on the
dais tomorrow, all of them,

and at their head that
wretched King Danlola

and all his court, bearing
the new yam in his arms.

You get him to do that.

Well, is there anything else?

- Go now quickly.

But you haven't completed
the message, my leader.

- I say I want a total,
absolute submission

in full view of the people.

- But the reprieve.

You said nothing of that.

- Didn't I?

All right, tell your Danlola
I'll reprieve those men

if he cooperates fully.

- My magnanimous leader.

- But,

it shall be a last minute decision.

Kongi's act of clemency
remains a confidential decision

until 15 minutes before the hanging.


Five seconds.

That's enough of a
safety margin, isn't it?

It had better be.

(crowd cheering)

(wood clattering)

Dispute me with righteous politic

to grant reprieves to the
five men awaiting execution.

And dispute, do you hear?

- [Officer] This is a police announcement.

The public is hereby warned to be on guard

against the convicted enemy
of state, Dr. K.E. Gbenga.

Repeat, Dr. K.E. Gbenga,

who has escaped from the state prison

where he was held pending
execution at tomorrow's festival.

Another trying to escape with him

hanged himself rather than face recapture.

Dr. Gbenga, father of the nightclub.

(insects chirping)
(muffled music)

(pleasant music)
(people chattering)

- Well?

- So this is a certainty?

- I have Kongi's word.

Now, I want your word that your uncle

will cooperate fully with us.

- I shall obtain it.

On those conditions, he cannot refuse me.

- And no one need lose face over it.


Some beer.

- The new yam for the lives of five men.

It's a generous bargain.

- As a matter of fact, it's not five, no.

It isn't five, it's three isn't it?

You heard about Segi's father?

- We heard.

- One escaped, Segi's father,

and one got killed in the attempt.

So, as you said, we have three lives.

- It's still a generous bargain.

- I'm glad you think so.

Publicly we shall give it out of course

that as part of the harvest amnesty,

the government has been
pleased to release Oba Danlola.

Then, as a gesture of reciprocity,

the exact words of official release, eh?

As a gesture of reciprocity,

Oba Danlola will voluntarily
surrender the first yam.

- The enactment of it
alone should appeal to him.

I mean, Kabisi loves to act roles.

Like kingship.

- That's right.

Now, that's funny isn't it?

One of the Aweris said exactly
the same thing of Kongi.

A flare for gestures, he said.

- Maybe that's why they
hate each other's guts.

(secretary laughs)

- Professional jealousy, eh?

Couldn't agree with you more.

Now, I will

take Kongi.

You will tackle your uncle.

I can count on you?

- He won't refuse me.

I shall see him tonight.

You will make the arrangements?

- Go and see him now.

You'll be admitted.

Let him know that the lives of three men

hang on his decision.

Four, if Segi's father is recaptured.

- Segi's father will not be recaptured.

- I must go now.

I have to tell Kongi all is well.

- I thought he was in the mountains,

meditating in the mountains.

- I am allowed to go up and see him,

on urgent state matters, of course.

- Of course.

- Where are those fools going to?

You, call me those two
creatures I came in with.

- I think they have gone.

- Gone?


I didn't see them leave.

- They shouldn't have come here.

- As servants of the state,
they can go anywhere, anywhere.

- Too many people remember them.

They shouldn't have come here.

- What are you trying to say?

I thought we were allies.

- So we are.

I promised you my uncle's
public submission.

- What happened to my ears of state?

- You forget I'm only a farmer.

I don't run this place.

- Well, who does?

- Over there, ask her.

(audience applauds)

- Where are those men who came with me?

- Safe enough.

Or would you care to see for yourself?

- Does this mean that,

that I am also your prisoner?

- No.


- In that case, I'd not
wish to remain here.

- I'll see you out.

(upbeat music)

- See you at the feast.

(singing in foreign language)

- It isn't finished yet,

but it will be ready for you tomorrow.

- This?

- We'll work on it all night if necessary.

- Look, I didn't mean that,

but must I really wear this?

- Stand still.

- Well in the name of everything,

what am I supposed to be?

- The spirit of harvest.

- I feel like the prince of orgies.

I feel like some decadent deity.

- Well, that is the idea.

- Well can't something simpler do?

- No, now stand still.

Be solemn for a moment.

- Let me preach hatred, Segi.

If I preach hatred, I could match

his barren marathon hour
for hour, tyrant for tyrant.

- Forget Kongi.

(boots thudding)

(people screaming)

(glasses crashing)

(man spits)


- Escaped?

- Not from my camp, sir.

It wasn't from my camp.

- Escaped, escaped?

- Only one, sir.

The other hanged himself.

- The one who escaped, who was he?

- [Secretary] Gbenga, sir.

The doctor, Segi's father.

- I want him back.

I want him back, do you hear?

- He shall be caught at once, my leader.

- I want him back alive, if possible.

If not, any other way, I want him back.

- I shall have it done at once, my leader.

- Get out.

Go and bring him back!

And hear this.

The amnesty is off.

The reprieve is off.

The others hang tomorrow.

- My leader, your promise.

- No amnesty, no reprieve.

Hang every one of them!

- You promised, my leader.

The word of Kongi...

- And bring me Segi's father.

Get out, get out!

(engine idling)

- Well?

(percussive music)

(crowd cheering)

(speaking foreign language)

- Is this a trick to gather
mangoes for the orchestra?

I thought I especially
desired a copper server!

- The smith had done
nothing at all about it.

- The smith, the smith?

All I hear is of some
funny bloke, the smith!

- Shall I call him to you, Kabisi?

- I have more important
preparations to make

than to break wind with the smith.

And take that thing back to
where it was abutted from.

I'm telling.

I want my copper server!

- Copper, Kabisi?

- Copper, yes, copper.

The color of every harvest.

Do you think the king could have

the first of the new yam
in anything but copper?


(upbeat music)

- [Announcer] Attention
everyone, attention everyone.

This is a police announcement.

President Kongi has offered
a reward of 8,000 pounds

for the recapture of escaped
traitor, Dr. K.E. Gbenga.

Alive if possible.

If not, any other way.

Repeat, 8,000 pound reward

for the recapture of Dr. K.E. Gbenga.

Alive if possible.

If not, any other way.

- The national will and resolve

demand that those men who
have been found guilty

of treason towards the state,

die tomorrow publicly at the
national harvest ceremony.

The will of the state is supreme.

Destiny has entrusted in our
hands the will of the state.

The will of the state is supreme.

Destiny has entrusted in our
hands, the will of the state.

The will of the state is supreme.

Destiny has entrusted
in our hands, the will...

(radio clicks)

- Dende!
- Kabisi.

- Summon the elders, and tell them I say

none but the king shall eat the new yam!

- Kabisi.

(percussive music)

- He's heard?

- And the result is exactly as I feared.

- I shall deal with it.

He will probably curse
me, but it's the only way.

- What are you going to do?

- It doesn't concern you.

- Wait.

You say it doesn't concern me,

but it seems to concern you very much.

That's what concerns me.

Why do you care so much?

I am the one who's going to worry,

but you seem to have a greater stake

in the harvest than even I.

(percussive music)

(people speaking foreign language)

(speaking foreign language)

- [Boy] Kabisi.

- Someone put a curse on my firstborn.

- No, your son has his senses intact.

He must know what he's doing!

Life gets more final every day.

Kongi merely demanded the yam,

and he stopped our singing.

But you, our son and heir,

you sing to the song itself.

When the first in line claps his hand

over a monarch's mouth, it is time for him

to take to the final sleep,

or take to drink and women.

- It is important.

It is desperate and vital

that you hand the leader what he wants.

I can't explain it now.

Time is short, and we have much to do,

but I want your word that
you will do as you promised!

- Make my excuses to him.

My son in politics, the organizing
secretary will help you.

- I have no thoughts of Kongi.

This matter concerns us.

Your children.

Kabisi, this is no time for false pride.

- I wish you luck.

- Kabisi.

- You swore to me.

Earlier this morning, you swore to me.

- And so, you child, did Kongi.

Did he not promise our
reprieve for the condemned men

in return for the final
act of my humiliation?

Well, did he not?

- Yes, and our man will continue

to remind him of his promise.

- Then perhaps you have
not heard the radio.

Did not one of the dying enemies of Kongi,

cease suddenly on life, by
jumping through the prison walls?

And Kongi has put out
a prize upon his head.

That, dear child, is a new
way to grant reprieves.

Alive, the radio blared, if possible,

and if not, dead.

I didn't say it, Kongi did.

In my primitive youth,
that would be called

a plain incitement to murder!

- Nothing can change
what today will bring.

That you keep your promise
is a vital part of it!

- Kabisi, age is nectar.

May the royal household ever live long

to savor its blessings.

- Take your son with you.

Prepare him for my crown and beads.

This king is done!

- Kabisi, Kabisi, live long,

reign long and peaceful.

We do not desire this kind of succession,

which bears a silent curse.

He may have something
for old ears, like ours.

We've got to listen!

- Out of my way!

- Can you do more than
those whose fight it is?

The daughter of the man
who has escaped, Segi.

She wants the harvest to go on as planned.

- Segi?

Did you say Segi?

- The same.

- I have wandered around
some damn sufficient ones,

and clambered over sharp
hillocks in the dark,

and never missed my way.

But Daudo, that woman of yours,

she scares the pepper
right out the nostrils

of your old man here.

- And out the nostrils
of Kongi's people, too.

That is what matters.

- And this woman,

you say her father is already free,

and yet she wants the harvest
to be held as planned?

- She does.

- And what sort of a harvest

do you children mean to give the world?

- Kabisi, is it not you elders who say...

- Well, so be it.

- Kabisi.

- It seems our son will make us

mere spectators of our own feast.

But who are we to complain?

- Kabisi, Kabisi.

- Dende, Dende, my robes, my robes.

Don't you realize you are
keeping the whole nation waiting?

(percussive music)

(people whooping)

(people chattering)

(people whooping)

(upbeat music)

(speaking foreign language)

Hadn't they better see the
new idol in Kongi Square

before they earn themselves a lockup

for subversive statements?

- Kabisi, your voice was the dawn pigeon

that roused us from our sleeping mats.

We do not know the jackal's call.

We do not listen to the bondsmen

when the father speaks.

- Wise birds learn to
separate the pigeon squeal

from the shrill alarm when
one stalks the forests.

(all laughing)

- Well, in front of you,
your children speak freely.

- This is a gift from
our district officer.

The white man were very practical

in matters of bodily comfort.

(both laughing)

(engine rumbling)

- How did they get in?

How did they get in?

- They won the new yam competition.

- They did what?

- The new yam competition.

Won by Prince Daudo's farming settlement.

- You mean, Daudo will
now make the speech,

offering the new yam to the president?

- Yes, that's our orders.

Winner of the new yam competition

to be escorted in for
the special presentation.

- Something's not quite right.

My number seven sense
refuses to be silenced.

Daudo, that's Daudo.

- May I present Miss Harvest,
queen of the festival?

- I see you've filled the
float with all your creatures.

- No, no, Kongi's creations.

They all have husbands and fathers

rotting in forgotten places.

- The worst mistake Kongi ever made

was to ask to mobilize
the women in his support.

- [Segi] He was grateful
enough at the time.

- [Secretary] Segi, Daudo, I beg of you,

don't ruin 12 months of preparations.

- I don't intend to ruin anything.

- Look, I am almost due for retirement.

And I want to retire to my village,

not to a detention camp.

- Where have you placed
us for the ceremony?

- The only place left is over there.

Near the...

- I see you have four places.

- Kongi insisted.

He's sure the fourth man
will be brought back.

- Dead or alive?

- If he is brought back dead,
Kongi will still hang him.

He's set on it.

(upbeat music)

- Sarumi.

- Kabisi, I was beginning to rack my brain

for some excuse I hadn't used before

to explain your absence.

- I have only come to see our sons dance.

- Dance?

Daudo, I know his farm
won the competition.

Oh I mean, he will make
the speech of presentation.

- The bridegroom does not strain his neck

to see a bride pound
anyway for his bedchamber.

So, let's you and I wait like
the patient bridegroom, eh?

- Very true, Kabisi.

I trust, oh I mean, about our agreement.

The arrangement still stands?

You will present the new yam?

- If the young sapling bends,

the old tree, if it resists
the wind, will only break.

- I'll take you to your places now.

You'll be placed on the dais,
quite close to the president.

(percussive music)

(singing in foreign language)

(dramatic music)

(drumroll rattling)

Hey, what are you waiting for?

Tell your driver to drive onto the dais.

- We were waiting for
you to give us the word.

- You have a program, haven't you?

After the anthem, the new yam

shall be immediately presented.

I'll ride back with you,

and I hope your speech is very short.

Just feel happy, and
honored, and all that stuff.

(people chattering)

Your excellency, the president.

Members of the diplomatic core.

Ladies and gentlemen.

The presentation of the
new yam to the leader.

- There is earth enough for
miracle yams to grow freely.

For the miracle of mind to grow freely.

For all men to breathe freely.

For people to embrace in freedom.

The living tuber once buried,

may sprout anew.

Not so, with human lives.

We understand of harvest only this,

there is food enough.

Eat of the pounded yam,
not nibble on the rind.

There is wine enough.

Drink of the wine yourselves,

not leave it to ministers
for dubious sacraments.

Take from the palm only its wine,

not crucify lives upon its thorns.

So let us hereby repudiate
all prophets of pain,

except it be to acknowledge
that pain may be endured.

Only in pursuit of ending pain,

and fighting terror.

No more gods, old or new.

- I, Kongi!
(gun fires)

(people screaming)

- [Commander] Go and contain, move!

Nobody leaves the square!

You overlooked something.

The brigade.

- [Man] You have your price.

- [Commander] It's rather high.

- How high?

- Gallows high.

- The situation has changed.

The will of the state is supreme.

Destiny has entrusted in our
hands, the will of the state.

The will of the state is supreme.

Destiny has entrusted in our
hands, the will of the state.

The will of the state is supreme.

Destiny has entrusted in our
hands, the will of the state.

(percussive music)