Scenes of Lord Bongo and The Professionals at the Peak of Their Fame in Sierra Leone

Categories: Cover Story
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Godfrey Manly Spain as his signature character, "Lord Bongo," in Freetown in the late 1980s.
In the Paper Version of Unfair Park this week, we've got a longer look at the life of Lord Bongo Johnson, one of Sierra Leone's most popular and influential celebrities in the early '90s, who murdered his common-law wife and killed himself in their Mesquite home last summer.

We mentioned it here briefly a few months ago after Bongo's funeral, but the longer feature covers more about the peak of his fame back home, and his struggle to make a new life in the United States after fleeing one of the most brutal civil wars the world's ever seen.

After the jump, you can check out a few video clips from a performance by Bongo's troupe, The Professionals, from Sierra Leone's capital city of Freetown. As his comedy partner Donal Nat-George notes in the story, their brand of humor doesn't always translate overseas -- and you're out of luck if you don't speak Krio, but it's a window, at least, onto the slapstick kind of performance they'd put on. They toned down the politics for this performance, back in the late '80s, since they'd been hired to perform at the State House for guests of then-president Joseph Momoh.

You'll spot Bongo below, wearing a pith helmet and smoking a pipe, and Nat-George, who lives in Dallas today, as the wildly politically incorrect character limping around without shoes. The first video's a clip of the opening dance sequence they'd begin most shows with, and the next two are clips from a routine in which Nat-George, as Bongo's nephew Dandogo, ruins Bongo's soup order by adding cockroaches.






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