In the spirit of giving credit where it is due, I must admit that Congolese musician and dancer Koffi Olomide has without a doubt helped popularize Congolese music and dance genres, such as rumba and soukous, in both the continent and across the Diaspora, but that does not negate the fact that he is abusive.
Superstar or not, I have to call him out. Mind you, stating that he is abusive is not a matter of mere personal opinion, it is a statement that has been backed up with a great deal of evidence.
In February 2012, three of his backup dancers filed rape charges against him in France. The French court investigated him on three counts of rape and illegal confinement. To evade his ruling, Olomide fled back to his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. We will never know whether the French court would have found him guilty.
Olomide has also gone as far as kicking a journalist and breaking his camera in 2008 and assaulting a former producer in 2012. What really caused public uproar, though, was when he was caught on camera kicking a woman who happened to be his backup dancer at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport last July:
Olomide went on to deny his actions by claiming to defend the victim and other dancers from a pickpocket, but Kenyan authorities were not having it. Olomide got arrested and deported back to the DRC.
Although a lawful hearing was not carried out in Kenya, how could we trust that he was not going to pull a runner like he did in France?
On a serious note, are these the actions of an innocent man?
Should There Be Consequences?
Clearly, the music icon always happens to escape the justice system, but perhaps we, as his audience and fans, should boycott his music. Choosing to purposely not support any of his artistic endeavors is the closest we will ever come to having him behind bars for his unwarranted behavior.
We should certainly take a cue from Zambia’s Agricultural and Commercial Society — who upon hearing about his physical altercation in Kenya — quickly released a public statement expressing their zero tolerance for violence, hence the cancellation of his set performance.
But this in itself begs the question of should we separate the art from the artist.
In this specific situation, I believe it is detrimental if we remain indifferent toward Olomide’s repeated offenses.
First, he shows no signs of remorse (and his half-*ssed apology on Facebook doesn’t count). Second, if we continue to support his upcoming and future artistic endeavors, we are insinuating that no matter his abusive actions there are no repercussions, which is far from the truth.
Third, his celebrity status should not excuse him from facing the law. Time and time again celebrities break the law, yet their money and status seems to buy them out, which perpetuates the idea that they are not equal in the law: as long as one is loaded with money and has the connections, one can get away with anything.
Clearly, Olomide is a repeat offender and no one should bother justifying his behavior or actions. Acknowledging what he has done and asking him to take responsibility does not take away from what he has done and achieved in his past music career, but the truth still remains he clearly is a perpetrator on the loose who has yet to face the justice system for his unsolicited sexual acts and violent tendencies.
I am curious to know peoples’ opinions. What are your thoughts on Olomide’s recent controversy? Was the Kenyan authorities right to deport him? In this case, should we separate the art from the artist, and at what cost? Is possible to continue supporting his music, yet condemn him for his behavior?
Please share your thoughts and comments below.