Brutality

Music legend, caught kicking dancer, faces allegations of rape and sexual enslavement

Koffi Olomide and dancers of the Quarter Latin group, perform in 2005 at the Iba Mar Diop stadium in Dakar. (SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Congolese rumba music legend Koffi Olomide, already deported from Kenya and barred from performing in Zambia after he was captured on video viciously kicking one of his female dancers, is facing new revelations he repeatedly raped and sexually enslaved girls, some underage, who danced in his celebrated troupe.

The 60 year-old Kinshasa-based performer was, according to an explosive investigation by Le Monde Afrique, issued with an international arrest warrant by French authorities in 2009 — renewed in 2012 — for “rape of a minor aged 15”  and “sequestration” as well as “aiding the entry and stay of a foreigner in France” and “conditions of work or lodging contrary to human dignity.”

The dancers allege they were constantly brutalized, kept under guard and made to serve the sexual demands of the star in France and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Olomide  — real name, Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba —  has been placed under investigation and would be immediately arrested if he returned to France, as the judicial procedure and inquiry is still “open and ongoing” according to a court in Nanterre.

The violence is said to have occurred between 2002 and 2006 when the girls, some of them minors, and traumatized by the loss of their parents in the Congo war, and violence and abuse from within their own families, were dancing with Olomide, including on international tours. After being apprehended without identity papers in Lyon, three of the girls decided to tell their story to a judge, with the help of the Committee Against Modern Slavery.

Their claimed abuse took place in a house outside Paris in Asnieres where they were obliged to stay with three guards and locks on the gates, according to the judicial dossier seen by Le Monde Afrique. Most of the female dancers were brought to France with illegal passports of other people, given to them by Olomide, the girls said.

“As soon as the concert ended, we had to go back to the house in Asnieres,” said one of the girls in her testimony. “We were guarded by three security officers. We were four to a room and didn’t have the right to leave without permission. I could not use the telephone even to call my mother. We were paid 100 euros for a concert from midnight to six in the morning. We were forced to sleep with him: he would call a guard who would take a dancer to the Etap Hotel.”

When they weren’t at the hotel, the rapes took place in the recording studio or in the toilets of a supermarket in Asnieres, alleged another dancer, aged 14 at the time.

Girls who refused the demands were sent home. Despite smiling during the concerts the dancers said they were “humiliated,” “soiled” and regularly “raped” by the popular musician who liked to promote himself as a defender of women’s rights.

When the girls fell pregnant, Olomide reportedly obliged them to swallow medication that brought on miscarriage, one of them recounted. Sometimes their medical situation worsened and he would take them to hospital, registering them under the name of his wife Aliane Olomide.

In Kinshasa, similar abuse and rape allegedly took place regularly with the girls locked up in the house of the singer’s mother, and under the control of a man called “Boss.” Their sexual assaults were “constant and brutal” according to Le Monde Afrique’s investigation.

However most of the dancers were still in adulation of Olomide, because the chance to dance in his troupe and join him on international tours “was a fairy tale for these beautiful, talented, but poor girls.”

The accused’s lawyers said the case was based on “bizarre” claims and declared some of the girls lied about their age. “The case is based purely on accusations that have allowed the accusers to stay on French soil when they had entered illegally,’’ said attorney Emmanuel Marsigny.

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