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Zambians witness successful GBV fight

Gender Focus with JUDITH KONAYUMA
NEVER before has the fight against GBV been more successful than what the nation witnessed over the Koffi Olomide saga.
For once, the nation was united in its condemnation of a public figure who found himself on the other side of the law by engaging in GBV.
Like we have said before, the fight against GBV is for everyone because we are all affected, one way or another.
If we are not victims, we are affected because one of our relatives is a victim of GBV. GBV is a vice that we see around us and sometimes it develops into a familiarity.
For some people, they think a victim would soon get over it, especially where it has become like a norm for the victim which can be made worse by a culture of silence.
I am bound to say that this is what we saw in the Koffi Olomide saga, where the victim, maybe out of fear of losing her job, remained silent and could not report the incident to the police.
It is not uncommon to see that a victim, for fear of losing out, opts to suffer in silence while the abuser goes on unrestrained.
If it was not for the video clip, Koffie Olomide’s victim would probably have taken a similar course and we would not have known about it. Cases of concealment abound.
But it is as people speak out that on behalf of victims we will see justice coming to them. Where a victim cannot speak out, others should take up the fight and seek justice. This was a job well done by Zambians.
I am sure there are a number of people who were looking forward to his coming to perform at the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show to which he was invited by the Show Society.
However, as soon as the video about the incident went viral, and the news spread, a vicious wholesome condemnation ensued. There was no view to the contrary, though the Show Society at first insisted that the show would go on.
Maybe their decision was out of the fear to breach the contract the Society had entered into with the Congolese musician.
This decision was only short-lived. It could not stand against the united voice of the masses who felt there was no longer any justification for the musician’s show to go ahead.
Musicians are public figures and so their lives are in public domain. Their fans watch every step they take. So it is with everyone who enters the public arena. They become an icon to their fans and the demands of morality placed on them are high.
Such people are expected to uphold a high moral standard, in line with what they sing about. In this way, it becomes easier for them to win the confidence of the public. It is a matter of one teaching what they preach.
It is out of this consideration that some musicians or public figures are chosen as ambassadors. When national leaders chose such prominent people to be ambassadors, it is because there is a cause they want them to champion.
Let us not forget. We have our own vivid example in the case of musician Clifford Dimba ‘General’ Kanene, who was appointed GBV ambassador. It was not long before he was stripped of the title because he did not live up to it.
By their status, celebrities are role models. They can set a trend that their fans will follow. This is why it is important for celebrities to maintain a high moral standard. Short of this, one is not worth a celebrity.
It is because of this that Twitter followers were not amused at all. In their disappointment, they mounted a vigorous campaign against Olomide’s scheduled performance at the Show in Zambia with the hashtag #ZambiaSayNoToKoffi.
Some of the messages on Facebook went as follows:
Mabeflav Flav He should not come to Zambia!!!
Joy Lombe: We should not tolerate such in Zambia. We are praying for a violence-free Zambia, why entertain a violent person?
Mwila Mwila: The stupid part about this whole drama is that now the dancing queen says she wasn’t hit by Koffi. Which part of the footage did I miss? Unless she says being KICKED does not amount to being HIT. Koffi had better find somewhere else to go perform other than Zambia
And so it was that when the Non- Governmental Organisations Co-ordinating Council (NGOCC) picked the news, it did not waste time to add its vice to the campaign.
As an organisation that champions the rights of women, including the elimination of GBV, the NGOCC issued a terse statement, expressing its displeasure over the musician’s behaviour at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and asking the Show Society to bar him from coming to Zambia.
Despite some initial resistance, the Show Society eventually succumbed to the calls and, instead, an arrangement was quickly made for a replacement – Werrason, another Congolese musician.
In doing some damage control, Werrason regretted the incident in Kenya and apologized to the people of Zambia, especially the women.
For him and as an ambassador appointed by his country to help the women victims in war-torn eastern Congo, GBV is not negotiable.
This is the kind of person Zambians would like to associate with. The Koffi Olomide incident has shown unity against GBV. The people of Zambia stoop up and said “no” to GBV and they carried the day. This is the unity that should be shown all the time.
Though the fight against GBV still remains an uphill battle, such unity is a positive sign as a strategy against the vice. Let us remember that united we stand and divided we fall.