"If the government doesn’t announce it has stopped Koffi Olomide, then we are taking to the streets and protesting"
Efforts to prevent Congolese musician Koffi Olomide whose real name is Antoine Christopher Agepa Mumba, from coming to South Africa have gained momentum since his name landed on social media once again over the past weekend.
The Twitter account for the #StopKoffiOlomide campaign revealed that Koffi Olomide was to perform in South Africa in late June 2019, and listed his widely reported assaults against women – rallying people to help stop him entering South Africa.
A petition has since been launched under #StopKoffiOlomide, directed at the Department of Home Affairs, concert hosts Gallagher Estate and Shimmy Beach Club, and has rallied almost 800 signatures in two days. The campaign leaders also wrote to the Presidency and other government departments calling attention to this cause.
Since this campaign made the rounds on Twitter, both Gallagher Estate in Johannesburg and Shimmy Beach Club in Cape Town have announced that the Koffi Olomide’s gigs are cancelled.
Yay! Good news! Gallagher Convention Centre has just confirmed to our campaign that the concert is not going ahead??????— #StopKoffiOlomide (@StopKoffiOlomi1) June 19, 2019
But how did this campaign come about to begin with?
After seeing a poster of Koffi Olomide's gigs that were to take place in Johannesburg and Cape Town, the organisers of the #StopKoffiOlomide campaign were ready to make sure the 62-year-old would not perform in South Africa because of his depraved record of “violence directed at women”.
One of the campaign spokespeople, Bunie Matlanyane Sexwale, says: “We knew that this is a convicted felon so we were actually alarmed and angered that he was going to parade in South Africa.”
According to BBC, in March 2019 Koffi Olomide was found guilty of the statutory rape of one of his former dancers when she was 15 years old. He has also been reported to have been found guilty of assaults twice in his home country in the DRC and then again in Kenya, where he was deported.
In 2018, he allegedly assaulted someone in Zambia, where a warrant of his arrest has been ordered.
This campaign to prevent Koffi Olomide touching South African ground has snowballed since it launched, with popular figures such as Rosie Motene, helping create awareness around this campaign.
The campaign was powered by the masses. Special thanks to @Ezamission for helping us to collect signatures from CSOs, @RosieMotene who tweeted and retweeted throughout the day yesterday @Kmoeti and @AmandlaMobi for running with the petition and everyone who Tweeted and signed on. https://t.co/bDNPFAXClr— #StopKoffiOlomide (@StopKoffiOlomi1) June 19, 2019
But the campaign organisers stress that this is not the first, nor will it be the last time they fight against violence.
“We have been for many years, some of us for decades,” says Bunie.
“We are aware that if something like this is there, it means that the state and other entities have not done their job or are simply not aware of it. So we take it upon ourselves as responsible activists to make sure that we bring it to the attention of everybody, and if they act then we are okay, but if they don’t act then we do something,” she adds.
Bunie says she is satisfied with how the campaign has been received so far by the presidency, that as soon as they sent the letter on the morning of 18 June, the presidency wrote back within minutes to say they are taking it quite seriously and are addressing the issue with the minister of home affairs.
“However, that is a promise, it’s not a fruit that is already in our hands… so until they announce that they have stopped him from coming we shall not rest,” says Bunie.
She further adds that if they "don’t announce that they have stopped him by the 24 June, then we are taking to the streets and protesting.
“We are also demanding that they should arrest him because there is a warrant out for his arrest in Zambia, so we are requesting them to buckle him up and send him to Zambia to go answer on those charges.”
Bunie says this campaign is a warning to all abusers that they are watching.
“We see that the art industry seems to be competing with itself lately, we stood by when R. Kelly came here and spoke only on Facebook and didn’t take enough action for him to be stopped. We stood by when Mike Tyson was here and spoke among ourselves, but not loud enough for us to be heard and now we are tired. Even if it’s the external [parties] or the ones at home, we are always watching and always doing something.”
Bunie says she and the other organisers began this campaign, and other they’ve done so before, because “it’s important to write our own history”.
“Violence against women affects all sectors of society. However, because of the material conditions it affects black women more than any other group and so it is important that we initiate action but it is also important that we speak for ourselves.
"We have been spoken for by others for far too long, even we have done our own activities, we have been theorised and spoken [for] in many different ways - it’s very important that we speak ourselves,” says Bunie.
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