Koffi Olomide arrested, questioned by Congo police

Renowned Congolese musician Koffi Olomide (left) on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on Friday 22, 2016. Police arrested the rhumba star in his home town of Kinshasa on July 26, 2016. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Olomide’s troubles have extended across borders after the Agricultural and Commercial Society of Zambia bowed down to public pressure and cancelled his planned shows in Lusaka.
  • A Zambian group said the "disappointing" incident in Kenya was behind its decision to ban the 60-year-old musician, who rivals the recording prowess of the legendary Franco (Luambo Luanzo Makiadi), the legend of Congolese music who died in 1989, but one with an explosive career characterized by violence.

Congolese musician Koffi Olomide has been arrested and questioned in his home town of Kinshasa, adding to the woes of the famed singer who was deported from Kenya for kicking one of his dancers.

“May the righteousness of man be just and fair,” Olomide, one of Africa’s most celebrated musicians, updated in his Facebook page moments after his arrest.

The BBC has reported that he was arrested on the orders of the attorney-general but the reasons for his arrest are still unclear.

Olomide’s troubles have extended across borders after the Agricultural and Commercial Society of Zambia bowed down to public pressure and cancelled his planned shows in Lusaka.

The group said the "disappointing" incident in Kenya was behind its decision to ban the 60-year-old musician, who rivals the recording prowess of the legendary Franco (Luambo Luanzo Makiadi), the legend of Congolese music who died in 1989, but one with an explosive career characterized by violence.

JEERS AND BOOS

On Sunday, the Zambia Association of Musicians, in a statement, announced that during his last tour in Zambia, on New Year's Eve in 2013, Olomide beat up one of his dancers and a photojournalist at a music concert. He escaped a police dragnet to arrest him.

According to Zambia’s Post newspaper, in 2011, Olomide also escaped arrest by police, exiting Zambia on a motorbike over differences with his promoter.

“Koffi has proved to be violent when musicians are generally peace ambassadors,” the association said.

After his deportation from Kenya, Olomide returned home to the welcome of jeers and boos at the airport.

In Togo, lawyers for a cultural promoter have called for his arrest and prosecution after he failed to turn up in Lome for a music concert for which he had been paid partly.

In his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, press reports indicate that he has been implicated in several incidents but his ties to the Kabila government have protected him from prosecution.

In October 2014, police arrested him because of a nickname that he had used on his banners to announce his next music concert - Vieux Ebola (Old Ebola).

INAPPROPRIATE NICKNAME

At the time of Olomide's arrest, Ebola had killed 50 people in DR Congo and the government was fighting allegations of poor handling of the Ebola crisis. The government told him that the nickname was not acceptable.

Other than Vieux Ebola, the musician has almost 35 nicknames and aliases, probably a record for the biggest number of aliases by any musician in the world.

Not long before his arrest, he added “Benedict XVI of the Congo” to his names — much to the chagrin of many Catholics in his country as the name was seen as an affront to Pope Benedict XVI, the immediate former head of the Catholic Church.

In August 2012, he received a three-month suspended sentence after he was found guilty of assaulting his producer over a debt.

On February 15, 2012, a French judge charged Olomide with three counts of rape and illegal confinement, after complaints from three of his backup singers.

In 2008, he was arrested after he fought a cameraman at a concert in Kinshasa. The two later reconciled.

Olomide, born Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba, is a celebrated singer, dancer and producer with several classic hits, and a number of his albums are included on an international list of 1001 albums people must hear before they die.

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