Koffi’s cancelled shows: The hypocrisy of diplomacy

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By Joe Mwansa Lombe Kaluba

It s said that no man or woman is an island. We live and depend on each other in many ways. Despite this we should long to put in order our house before we seek to befriend others. Forget about people extending their invitation to be your friend. That scrutiny comes later. Even at an advanced level, before building any diplomatic ties with any one be it at individual, community or international level one has to make sure they take a positive imagine to the would be friend.
I would like to note that sometimes diplomatic ties depend mainly on how much value you as a community like in the old days or country places on certain aspect of life.
Those who have done international relations or international diplomacy. You will agree with me that on the international level some ties go beyond elements like trade, technical or development support and regional integration. For some as I noted above it is the value or your position on matters related to human rights, issues of gender equality or matters related to the enhancement and consideration of the political system.
If you follow international politics or happenings you will may have heard that some countries close some embassies because of some of the above elements. Some close their post due to other reasons of course.
Coming to Zambia. You may have noticed that our Head of State President Edgar Lungu has been trying to bring back Zambia to that country that is united within and full of friends outside. This calls for hard work. Just like on an individual level if you want to keep that friendship or when making new ones you always look for certain attributes in them as you seek to call or make them your pals. It is the same at (inter)national level.
All stakeholders pitch up to do their part. The government, political parties, individuals, Civil Society Organisations(CSOs), the media, professional bodies, government workers, sports organisations or athletes and artists among others must do their part to maintain the already existing friendships or in building new ones.
In addition to that as I said maintaining those international relationships calls for hard work. Hard work is not only about seeing that you are friends but also to show that you don’t condone vices which do not project you as a country that doesn’t value human rights or respect but one that stands for the most disadvantaged citizens like women, the young, children the physically challenged or any persons who discriminated.
Late last month Rhumba star Koffi Olomidé assaulted a female dancer while in Kenya. The social movement, media, social media and individuals rose up to condemn the action. Koffi was arrested and deported from Kenya. On top of that he has been banned from entering Kenya until further notice.
As you may now know that/those Olomidé’s show(s) which were going to be held at this year’s Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show were called off. Koffi was hence replaced by another Rhumba king in Werrason a for member of the Wenge Musica group. Malawian star Skeffa Chimoto and 11 other local artistes made that cut too.
The organising committee hard to bow to pressure to some of us who rose up to condemn Koffi’s action. Credit to a lot of individuals out there who took it upon themselves to say we stand with Kenya. Koffi not coming to Zambia means our wishes were granted despite different or divided opinions on the matter.
As I said this campaign was done by individuals who believe in the value of human beings or women rights. People who believe that young people should be protected.
You may be asking that where was our women movement, youth movement or CSOs who always preach against Gender Based Violence(GBV) only when it suits them or their pockets. They were no where to be seen. I have said it before. This is because most of them are compromised in their work.
Some of them are working with organisations or groups who do not place value on protecting women or our women. I have talked about putting in order our house before we go to others to seek that friendship. With this kind of attributes or rather attitude it is difficult to do so. We have to show consistence. And consistence can only come when we stand for just cause even back home. Hence I wouldn’t blame those organisations who keep quite as condemning Koffi’s actions would be shooting themselves in the foot.
I would also want to challenge some of us who were seen to be very vocal on the issue of Koffi to do the same when something like this happens in our country. Showing to be champions of gender related issues abroad but failing to do so in your own country to me is the highest hypocrisy ever.
You can’t keep quiet with things happening in your country only to fight tooth and nail to have someone banned or arrested upon arrival. As I said above we have to show that we are committed even with related issues happening in our country. Otherwise it is better to just keep quiet.
As we are in the election period I also expected political parties to take the Koffi example and tell people their stance on matters related to GBV. Sometimes I feel we think issues like this are not important to talk about. The fact that they happen in our communities at all levels of life means they too should be a campaign issue.
I have always said for our political platform to be seen to be balanced our youths especially women should feel safe. Young people and women fear to enter politics because of be victims of hate speech, insults or violence among others.
I have noted above that our stance on certain issues gives confidence to our international friend. Just imagine us welcoming Koffi just a week after being deported in Kenya. That wouldn’t have gone well on the our diplomatic relation with them. I think the show society saved us from that shame.
I would like to point out here that for me the Olomidé issue was not about punishment but it was about sending a statement to people even in our country who abuse their workers or woman. No matter how much you give your workers or your companion it is not passport to turn them into a punching bag.
Men and women need protraction. Zambia needs international friends. And us citizens we ought to work hard towards this cause.
The author is a PhD candidate-Political, Gender and Transnational Studies at the International Postgraduate Centre (IPC), Faculty of Social Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31