Kofi Olomide: a case of good boy gone bad

Friday July 29 2016

Koffi Olomide on stage 

Koffi Olomide on stage  

Dar es Salaam. He is the self styled king of Rumba who has a penchant of many names and now prefers to be called Le Grand Mopao who enjoys a wide following in Tanzania just like in the neighbouring Kenya. 

Though he has been at peace while performing in Tanzania on numerous occasions, record suggest otherwise while on other venues. 

There are accusations of tearing travel documents, slapping dancers and even kicking photographers.

Last week when the popular crooner Koffi Olomide kicked of one of his female dancers on arrival at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he was just living up to his second name — controversy.

Olomide is one of the continent’s most colourful but a controversial singer who has had a long history of violent altercations with band members and numerous fights with his counterparts in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Back in Kinshasa after being deported and rearrested at his home on Tuesday morning with a possibility of spending some time behind bars, the veteran musician will have a very long moment of reflection. 

A source from DRC revealed that Koffi, who has had several run-ins with law enforcers, was arrested on grounds of misbehaving and tarnishing the name of his country.

Unconfirmed reports have since suggested that he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his misdemeanors.  His failure to manage anger blew his chances of a show at the Bomas of Kenya, a concert his fans were looking forward to.

At 60, Kofi is a musician that nobody wants in their neighbourhood right now and it is going to take several months to fix this as some countries have already declared him a persona non grata.

The veteran singer was put on a Kenya Airways plane by immigration and security officials, scuttling a performance that many fans, who love his latest hit song, Selfie-Ekoti Te, were looking forward to.

A flamboyant musician with a high sense of fashion, Mr Olomide seems to love controversy, and he has a copious choice of nicknames.

His many stage names include “Grand Mopao” and “Sarkozy”, after former French president Nicholas Sarkozy.

 At one time, to the chagrin of the largely Catholic DR Congolese, Mr Olomide christened himself “Pope Benedict”. He defied the widespread condemnation and still often uses the name.

What particularly appears to have incensed his fans was the apparent lack of remorse during the Citizen TV interview, in which he tried to spin an unconvincing tale about “pickpockets” who were harassing his dancers.

This lie infuriated top government officials even more, and after considering several options, a decision was reached to revoke his visa and bundle him onto the next plane.

During the interview, not only did Mr Olomide deny ever kicking the dancer identified as Pamela, but also attempted to draw his victim into declaring that there was no bad blood between them.

“I have no grudge with women and what was seen was just a bad internal scuffle,” Olomide said.

This is just one of the many incidents that Mr Olomide has been involved with his female dancers. In the mid 1990s, he allegedly tore the passport of one dancer whom he accused of attempting to blackmail him during his maiden tour of Kenya.

It took the intervention of the Congolese Embassy in Nairobi for the dancer to get temporary travel documents back home.

Mr Olomide’s reputation would be sullied a few years later when he was arrested in Paris, after one of his dancers accused him of trying to rape her. He allegedly escaped conviction after jumping bail and flying back to Kinshasa.

Ever since that incident, Paris has been more of a no-go zone for Mr Olomide with French authorities waiting to arrest him should he set foot there.

According a Congolese musician, who spoke to the Sunday Nation by phone from Paris, Mr Olomide has also been targeted by anti-President Joseph Kabila activists opposed to musicians seen as being too cosy with the Kinshasa leadership.

In 1998, the musician was involved in another scuffle with one of his then promising singers, Suzuki Luzubu, after a show in Nairobi, and reportedly snatched and tore his travelling documents. Suzuki also needed temporary papers to return home to Kinshasa. Other musicians have also accused their band leaders of disrespect and cruelty.

Here are five times the musician has been accused of assaulting his staff members.

Assaulting his producer

In August 2012, he was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for assaulting his producer. The rumba star, was arrested after fracas at a hotel in Kinshasa. According to reports, the two were fighting over a debt of some 3,000 Euros.


Accused of rape

In February 2012, a French judge charged the Congolese music star with three counts of rape and illegal confinement after complaints from three of his former backup dancers. He denied charges of raping three of his dancers; one was a minor.

Even journalists are not safe

In 2013, Mr Olomide was arrested by Zambian police on suspicion of assault. He was accused of assaulting a freelance journalist at the upmarket Taj Pamodzi Hotel during one of his shows. The musician kicked him in the face as he tried to take a picture of him after a show.

The 2013 slap

On the same night, Koffi was accused by one of his dancers of slapping her after the show. Witnesses said that he walked backstage and beat up one of his sensational female dancers.

One of the witnesses said, he slapped her just after he had kicked the photographer in the face. He hit his dancing queen for unknown reasons, the witness said, adding that the slap sent the lady to the ground and when she got up, she looked disoriented.

The 2016 kick

On Friday July 22, 2016, in a video that has gone viral, an agitated Koffi unleashed a kick on one of his dancers upon his arrival in Kenya for a much-awaited show.

After kicking her on her behind, police officers who were at the scene rushed to calm him down, before his handlers escorted him to his car, which immediately sped off.