New Play Based On Story of Kodjo Yenga

Lead role played by Kidulthood star Femi Oyeniran

A new play debuting in London this week is based on the tragic story of 16-year-old Kodjo Yenga, who was attacked and killed on the borders of Shepherd's Bush two years ago.

The play, called Kenzo, was written by Shana Mongwanga, who, like Kodjo, was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Playing the lead role is Femi Oyeniran, star of the films Kidulthood and its sequel Adulthood. Femi went to the same school as Kodjo, St Charles Catholic Sixth Form College in St Charles Square, W10.

The actor, who also has a law degree from the London School of Economics, says he was impressed with the way the play dealt with knife crime.

Shana met Kodjo a year before he died and says the play is a ficitionalised acount of the day of the meeting, and the consquences of his death.

Kenzo debuted on Monday, November 16 at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington and will also be performed on November 22 and 23.

The theatre describes the play as a tale about survival, foundations and belonging, and adds: "Based on a true story, Kenzo will not and cannot leave you indifferent".

Kodjo, a gifted A level student, died on March 14, 2007. His girlfriend Cookie said they were walking along Hammersmith Grove when they were ambushed by a gang of boys armed with weapons including knives, hammers and baseball bats. He died from a single knife wound to the heart.

In May last year, two teenagers aged 17 and 14 were jailed for life for his murder, with the judge ordering that they serve a minimum of 15 years. Another three, aged 15 to 17 were detained for a minimum of ten years.

In a statement read out in court, Kodjo's mother, Ladjua Lesele, appealed to young people to stop carrying weapons. Her moving statement continued: "I stand before you as a broken mother whose prayers, dreams and hopes for the bright future of her beloved son were cruelly and needlessly crushed when he was brutally murdered."

18 November 2009