Coming from an African background, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this play because when plays are set in or focus on Africa, they tend to do a poor job of portraying it well or they make me cringe. The Convert was a totally different story. The actors did such a good job of making me believe that they were born and raised in Zimbabwe that I forgot they are from London like me. After the play had finished, Paapa Essiedu, who played Chilford, spoke to the audience with his normal accent which completely threw me off guard after having thought he just naturally had a thick African accent throughout the play. It’s amazing to me that as Africans, we still have those ties to our culture and heritage that we can tap into at any given time. It shows that they have not lost who they really are, unlike some of the characters in the play.
The theme of sacrifice and identity was constantly explored throughout the play when multiple characters had to sacrifice who they really were at the expense of not overstepping gender, racial or religious boundaries. It showed only a small fraction – to me, the most important, – of the struggles colonised people faced because had they been able to continue speaking in their mother tongue or practise their rituals, I’m sure colonisation would have been easier to deal with. The Convert was a real eye opener that led to some very intense yet insightful conversations with my peers. It allowed me to see that colonisation did not have the same impact on every African. The play is one I would strongly recommend to anyone, African or not.