Zambia warns Koffi Olominde to stay away

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Jeff Kapembwa

Lusaka - Congolese soukus and rhumba superstar Koffi Olomide will not be coming to Zambia this month, as he risks arrest unless he resolves the pending court cases in France, Godfridah Sumaili, the Minister for Religious Affairs has said.

Olomide was billed to perform in Zambia July 27-28 at the Government Complex banquet hall in Lusaka and at Mindolo Dam in Kitwe on the Copperbelt.

However, Sumaili on Monday sent a stern warning to the popular singer barring him from coming to Zambia, otherwise he would be arrested for the criminal allegations made against him in Zambia and France.

Zambia investigated allegations against Olomide that he kicked a freelance photojournalist after a live performance in Lusaka in December 2012.

In 2016, his Zambian tour was cancelled after Kenyan authorities deported him after a video showing him assaulting one of his female dancers went viral. In 2012, he was convicted for assaulting his producer, while in 2008, he was accused of assaulting a cameraman during a concert in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In March this year, Sumaili banned South African exotic dancer Zodwa Wabantu from performing in the country because of her unorthodox dancing antics and dressing, which are contrary to Zambia’s Christian values and norms.

Olomide is expected to perform in Zimbabwe next month. The controversial Rhumba icon is scheduled to perform at Harare International Conference Centre on August 3 where he will share the stage with Zimbabwean musicians such as Sulumani Chimbetu and Aleck Macheso.

However, one man's loss is another man's gain as American renowned musical artists Joe Thomas and Brian McKnight are heading to Zambia for the Stanbic Music Festival. The popular festival is billed for October 5-6 at the Lusaka’s Polo Grill.

Stanbic Bank Zambia spokesperson, Chanda Katongo, said the American Grammy award-winning singers are scheduled to perform alongside local acts, including rising  Afro-pop star Kiki, the R&B queen Salma Sky, gospel singer Esther Chungu and the Zambian song bird, Wezi.

The music fest has remained one of the country’s biggest music events that not only displayed Zambia’s unique culture to the rest of the world but also gave local musicians a platform to grow their influence beyond the country’s borders.

“In keeping with the event’s tradition of moving forward and upward, this year’s showpiece is set to be bigger and better than the last,” she added.

The organisers want to make the event a mixture of celebration and embrace the essence of the country’s cultural diversity with a mega concert with a rich mix of great local and international talents from different genres and cultures.

Brian McKnight, the American R&B singer-songwriter and producer, is a multi-instrumentalist renowned for his talent in playing eight instruments, including piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet.  He has bagged 16 Grammy Awards nominations for hits, among them, ‘Anytime’, ‘Love Is’ and ‘Win’.

Joe Thomas has earned himself a reputation too. He is a singer, songwriter and record producer, born in Columbus, Georgia, the son of evangelist preachers and the man behind the platinum selling song, ‘All That I Am’.

The coming of the US-born artists is for Zambians to appreciate music variety.

“Our goal is to give the public something to look forward to each year in the most Zambian way we know how, which is good music, friendship, dance and an all-round good time. Social and cultural events like the Stanbic Music Festival bring people together and promote the spirit of oneness. They help us focus on what unites us even through our diversity, which is the spirit of Ubuntu.”

The event has the blessing of the National Arts Council and the Zambia Association of Musicians with its director, Adrian Maaka Chipindi, saying: “We are very grateful and excited for this festival. It’s an opportunity to create jobs for the sector. We also see it as a platform to enjoy and see some of the best artists in Zambia. Government supports this initiative and we hope that many more Zambians will support it.”

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