Disgraced Congolese singer has always been a ‘fighter’
When popular Congolese crooner Koffi Olomide kicked of one of his female dancers when he arrived in Kenya, he was just living up to his second name — controversy.
Olomide is one of the continent’s most colourful but controversial singers. He has a long history of violent altercations with band members and numerous fights with his counterparts back home in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Back in Kinshasa after being deported, the veteran musician will need to reflecting deeply on how his failure to manage anger blew his chances of a show at the Bomas of Kenya, a concert his fans were looking forward to.
His tour promoter Jules Nsana, who was devastated by the turn of events, confirmed that Mr Olomide arrived in Kinshasa on Saturday afternoon.
Mr Nsana was non-committal on the amount he had lost in airline tickets and talent fees. But he apologised to Kenyans who had booked to attend the show.
“Those who booked online will get refunds,” he said.
Speaking to the Sunday Nation by phone from Kinshasa yesterday, Dr George Masafu, the Kenyan ambassador to Democratic Republic of Congo said he was liaising with the country’s embassy in Nairobi to get details of what transpired at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Dr Masafu also confirmed that Mr Olomide had arrived home with the three dancers.
The veteran singer, who recently celebrated his 60th birthday, 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.
This followed an outcry when a video footage of the moment of madness at the airport went viral.
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 Kenyans 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,” Mr Olomide said.
He seemed not to know that the incident captured on a phone camera by a bystander, was already doing the rounds on social media in Kenya and beyond and it showed him as sadist.
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 Kenya’s capital, and reportedly snatched and tore his travelling documents.
Mr Suzuki also needed temporary papers to return home to Kinshasa. Other musicians have also accused their band leaders of disrespect and cruelty.