By Kingsley Obom-Egbulem
Just last week, I was involved in some kind of argument with a former colleague and the bone of contention was getting him to accept the fact that every male child in the course of their development first start out as boys emotionally and physically. But not all of them progress beyond that boyhood stage. Even though all males experience puberty (I hope so) and go on to develop beards, deep voice, broad shoulders and are able to impregnate a woman-courtesy of their God given ability to produce spermatozoa, many of them never really mature into men.
My colleague found that hard to swallow. My take is that when males exhibit inappropriate behaviours towards women its a reflection of their socialisation. It tells a lot about how they feel about women.
Then began our discourse which eventually progressed or should I say regressed into a combustible and almost pedestrian debate. And in keeping with my usual style, I had to bow out at that point and concede to him.
I presume my ex-colleague my have been too obstinate to see my reason or perhaps our discourse was either too abstract or very academic for him to understand. But my point remains that not many old males you see around truly reflect the wisdom, maturity and pristine conduct that often characterise the onset of old age. And the reason is because; they grew old but didn’t grow up. Or like I always say “they are simply Adult Males who never became MEN.”
Congolese musician and Soukous maestro,Koffi Olomide recently provided an invaluable opportunity for us to prove and deepen this argument and I think his blunder and public misbehaviour couldn’t have come at a better time- a time when there is an urgent need to appropriately tag every violent act against women and indeed every dysfunctional and despicable male behaviours that degrade women and girls as not just the fall out of wrong male socialisation but also an indication that not every 60 year old male we see around is actually a man.
On Friday July 22,2016, Olomide, according to reports by Kenya’s leading newspaper ,The Nation kicked one of his female dancers simply identified as Pamela right before security operatives at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. A video footage of the shameful incident -recorded apparently with the camera phone of a bystander showed Olomide charging at the lady with a Kung Fu kick that reminds one of the late Bruce Lee.
Olomide was visiting Kenya to promote his new album billed for the Bomas of Kenya on Saturday July 23. But the show never held as Olomide and three of his band members were deported that very morning aboard a Kenyan airways flight back to Kinshasha. The cost of the deportation was said to have been borne by the Kenyan government perhaps as expression of their distaste for any form of violence against women.
That this incident took place right at the airport and in front of heavy armed security personnel showed what a low life this Congolese musician had become. The level of impunity and the shamelessness Olomide had sunk is mind boggling. One Kenyan newspaper said Olomide descended so low by this act but I choose to disagree. I think this guy -despite his seemingly musical success and fame really never ascended from the abyss of junk socialisation and poor character formation on which he was raised and which I think is the reality of most adult males that act like him.
When you lack grooming as a boy and all you have is a foundation that sets you up for life as a raucous, lascivious, brutish and sexist male then your adult life cannot be different from that of a Koffi Olomide with a terrible antecedent of sexual and physical violence against women.
At 60,Koffi Olomide by all standards should either be a grand father, “grand uncle” or even a sage serving as a bastion of knowledge for upcoming Congolese young men and even women. But that is if ‘ageing’ is the same thing as ‘growing’.
It seems the boy has ‘grown old’ but never became a man…no thanks to those who refuse to understand the toddler of yesterday has become an abuser today. And the toddler of today will become tomorrow’s abuser if we don’t groom him into a MAN.
If you are in doubt, consider carefully the fact that Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg- arguably one of the worlds richest and most powerful men is not only inconspicuous in the news but cannot be tagged with any scandal each time he’s reported. Mark has simply comported himself and showed that men or gentlemen are groomed and not just allowed to grow like weeds. At a time when some “guys” his age (including those who are CEOs) are either in and out of rehabs or have had several children by several women and evading taxes, in messy divorce suits or getting fined by the law, Zuckerberg has been able to manage humongous fame and wealth that could make even some old men lose their heads.
How about the Google founders- Larry Page and Sergey Brin? Both of them are currently worth more than $12billion each and so far they haven’t lost their minds or heads. As rich and powerful as these guys are, they have been able to maintained high level of sanity in the conduct of their businesses and personal lives that makes you wonder why are some other less powerful billionaires getting drunk, going crazy, groping their female staff ,sleeping around with prostitutes and constantly getting high. These guys are powerful…and have the balls of most people in the entire world in their hands yet exhibit candour and humility.
Does this sound like comparing apples with oranges? Yes.
But even among apples there bad ones.
We know several CEOs who got to the top of their careers and eventually went crazy-men who could not manage fame, power and wealth including their perception of women. And its not just about their exposure and training. When it comes to women the socialisation of boys play is fundamental.
That’s where Koffi Olomide comes in.
In the 1990s, he was reported to have allegedly torn the passport of one of his female dancers, accusing her of attempting to blackmail him during his maiden tour of Kenya.
“It took the intervention of the Congolese embassy in Nairobi for the dancer to get temporary documents to travel back home”, reports the Citizen TV. And few years Olomide was at again. This time it was an alleged case of rape which led to his arrest in Paris, after one of his dancers accused him of trying to rape her. He was said to have escaped conviction after jumping bail and flying back to Kinshasa.
“And since that incident, Paris has been more of a no-go zone for Mr Olomide, with French authorities waiting to arrest him should he set foot there.” reported Citizen TV.
Perhaps Olomide has been some kind of ambassador of his native DRC Congo -a country ravaged by a protracted war and reeking with the most horrible stench of sexual violence ,rape and dehumanisation of women by armed soldiers, child soldiers and rebels.
If Koffi Olomide is going to have a turn around in his dealings with women, perhaps this may just be the time for it as he will be spending the next three months in jail as he awaits a ruling on prosecutors’ request to imprison him for a longer period for assaulting his female dancer. He needs time to be taught that a man’s estimation and respect should include his grooming which must include an evaluation of how he perceives and treats women.