Kossi the Bear (Movie Review)

September 7, 2023

In 1995, twelve-year-old Kossi was trafficked from Togo to Lagos like thousands of other children. Most of them ended up as servants, with about a tenth involved in criminal activities. Kossi’s parents sold him into domestic slavery to the Martin family (Wale Ojo and Dakore Akande), an upper middle class family in the city. Fifteen years later, he is ejected from their home with a severance package and a ticket back to Togo.

Determined to make money, Kossi tries his hand at counterfeiting currency. He perfects creating flawless fake $100 bills, supplying them to black market money exchangers. But his business runs afoul of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and his supply chain is soon compromised.

Gabriel Afolayan stars as the titular character, with a captivating performance that captures the Nigerian dream of going from poor to stupidly rich. He’s intensely vulnerable as Kossi the poor, shamed houseboy and charismatically happy as the rich counterfeiter. He’s supported by a solid cast including Udoka Oyeka, Damilola Adegbite, Wale Ojo, Sharon Ooja, and Wole Ojo.

Sebastian Akinropo’s directorial debut is a gritty, resonant story with some delightfully eccentric touches. Though it starts off with some extended exposition, the simple plot kicks into gear and delivers. Especially powerful is Afolayan’s performance as Kossi, whose focus and genius contrast with immaturity and an almost painful innocence. The film has an underlying sadness that’s not entirely unwarranted given its subject matter. It is a worthy addition to the growing pool of Nigerian films.


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