Koffi Olomide's Zambia show cancelled after singer kicked woman
Congolese rumba star had already been deported from Kenya following outcry over video footage of him assaulting a dancer
One of Africa’s most popular musicians, Koffi Olomide, has been barred from appearing in concert in Zambia, shortly after he was deported from Kenya when a video emerged showing him kicking one of his female dancers.
Footage of the incident, shot on a cameraphone in Nairobi airport on Friday, caused a social media outcry with thousands of Kenyans taking to Twitter and Facebook to demand that the Congolese rumba star be thrown out of the country.
Olomide had initially refused to apologise and claimed in a TV interview on Friday night that he was trying to protect the dancer from a pickpocket.
After leaving the studios of Citizen TV at about 10pm, he was arrested by detectives, locked up in a police station at the airport and put on a flight back home to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on Saturday morning.
After originally insisting that the Zambia show would go on, organisers bowed to pressure from Zambians on social media and cancelled it, citing the “disappointing” incident in Kenya.
The cancellation follows the calling off of a performance in Nairobi on Saturday, Olomide’s second in Kenya this year, after the assault video went viral. Kenya’s youth and gender minister, Sicily Kariuki, was among those who called for the singer to be deportated.
“His conduct was an insult to Kenyans and our constitution,” she said. “Violence against women and girls cannot be accepted in any shape, form or manner.”
It was a stunning fall from grace for the 60-year-old musician whose rumba hits have a huge following across Africa. His most recent release, Selfie, is a popular dancehall hit.
The Sunday Nation, Kenya’s biggest newspaper, said in an editorial that it was not the first time Olomide had been accused of assault.
“It would have been a travesty of justice if Olomide, with his long record of assaults and general loutishness, had been allowed to take to the stage with the same dancers who he violated as if nothing had happened,” it said.
Olomide, who on Sunday apologised for the episode in a post on his Facebook page, has been involved in violent incidents before.
He was given a three-month sentence for assaulting a producer in DRC in August 2012 and was accused of kicking a cameraman from the private RTGA station in 2008.
The president of the Zambia Association of Musicians, Njoya Tembo, praised the decision to cancel the concert, telling the Lusaka Times that Olomide had beaten up a photojournalist and one of his dancers in a past visit to the capital, Lusaka.
“It is sad that a person we consider a senior musician and role model in the region has gone on rampage assaulting women with impunity,” he said.