Koffi Olomide freed on bail after five days in jail
After spending five days in Kinshasa’s Makala Prison since his arrest and arraignment for assaulting one of his dancers, popular Congolese crooner Koffi Olomide was not only happy to be back home in his palatial residence, but was also full of reflection on one of the most trying moments of his long musical career.
Last Friday, his lawyer had failed to have him released on bail after the prosecutor asked for a postponement of the hearing. However, the musician was eventually released on Saturday.
The flamboyant musician was arrested last Monday at his Kinshasa home after kicking his dancer at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on July 22.
His band had just arrived at JKIA for a much-anticipated concert with hordes of his fans, who had already bought tickets, ready for a Selfie-Ekoti te hit song treat.
It has been a humiliating experience for Koffi, who spent a night in police cells at the JKIA, before being bundled onto a Kenya Airways plane and flown back to Kinshasa to a hostile reception.
He was seized at his home by police, who handcuffed and dragged him as bemused neighbours watched.
He had also risked 18 months in jail.
However, the sentence was later reduced to three months.
Prior to his release, dancer Pamela Eyengo, who has been at the centre of the storm that started in Nairobi, had, accompanied by some of her colleagues, made an emotional televised appeal to the First Lady of DR Congo, Olive Lemba Kabila, to lobby President Joseph Kabila to have the superstar set free.
It wasn’t clear whether his release on Saturday had anything to do with a possible presidential intervention.
An apparently remorseful Koffi was photographed with his family on his return to his home on Saturday afternoon.
Photographs of him in his tiny cell shortly before he was released were also posted on his Facebook page.
In a brief televised interview, Koffi thanked his fans for standing by him during his harrowing time behind bars, hoping for an end to his tribulations.
Since the JKIA incident, Koffi, who has a history of explosive relations with some of his band members, with numerous accusations of beatings and other forms of cruelty, has tried to repair his damaged image by apologising to the women of Congo, Kenya and world in general for his shameless display of anger that culminated in his deportation from Nairobi.
This left the promoter of his tour, Jules Nsana, counting losses and working out the logistics to refund the money some fans had paid for tickets online and in advance.
Visiting Nairobi for the Laugh Industry show by Churchill at the Carnivore Grounds, a protégé of Koffi, the mercurial Fally Ipupa, apologised to Kenyan fans for the ugly incident involving his mentor.
He said: “Koffi is like my father and we all make mistakes. Please forgive him.”
Koffi, who has nearly 300 albums under his belt, with a string of hit songs, including Papa Plus, Andrada, Fouta Djalon and Micko, is the founder and leader of Quartier Latin International Band. Besides Fally, Koffi also mentored the sensational Ferre Gola in the band.
It will be interesting to see how Koffi dusts himself up and picks up the pieces to return to what he does best – making danceable and fascinating music with jaw-dropping choreography.
The campaign to have him arrested had been triggered by Congolese MP Zacharie Bababaswe and women rights groups. He had filed a petition for Koffi’s prosecution, “wondering why he was still walking scot-free and yet he had been filmed assaulting one of his dancers in Nairobi”.
Later in the week, Tshala Muana, one of the best Congolese female musicians, had appealed for Koffi to be forgiven, adding he had made televised apologies over the debacle.
Speaking on Sunday, another fellow top Congolese musician, Lofombe Gode, said it was a relief to most of Koffi’s fans and fellow musicians, who saw his release as a great opportunity for reconciliation with those he had wronged in the past.
Mr Nsana, the promoter of Koffi’s ill-fated Kenyan tour, was also elated to hear that Koffi had been released from prison custody. “I am looking forward to speaking to him to chart the way forward,” he said
Earlier on Friday, the Kenya Ambassador to DRC, Dr George Masafu, had told the Nation that he was looking forward to an amicable solution to the problem sparked by the unfortunate incident in Nairobi.