Why rival promoters want to block Fally Ipupa concerts

Congolese musician Fally Ipupa N’simba who is expected to perform in Uganda this weekend. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The complainants claim the Congolese artiste did not turn up for past shows in Kampala despite paying him.

The holding of the highly anticipated and sold-out concerts by legendary Congolese musician  Fally Ipupa N’simba was hanging in the balance last night after rival promoters asked Uganda police to arrest the crooner on sight.

Through Kabega, Bogezi and Bukenya Advocates, a one Yannick Nseka Mbala and Jonathan Tabani Buta, in a letter addressed to the Commandant of Kampala Metropolitan Police, noted that Fally Ipupa took their money four years ago, but was a no-show for planned concerts, plunging them into huge losses.

The complainants claim that they in 2019 paid the high-flying Congolese musician Euros65,000 (Shs256m) for one concert in Arua and another in Kampala on December 13 and 14 of that year, respectively, but he neither performed nor refunded their cash.

We could not independently verify the payment claim as we were unable to reach Fally Ipupa by press time.

“Under Article 11 (Exclusivity) of the executed contract, it is stated that Mr Fally Ipupa shall not hold any other concerts and/or performance in Uganda unless our client’s contract is performed,” the petitioners wrote in their September 26 letter to police.

It remained unclear if they had previously sought legal redress or why they waited this long and close to another group, Uganda Malembe Lifestyle, hosting Fally Ipupa to seek action by law enforcement  --- and not the courts.

Nonetheless, the organisers said they were not a party to the contest and that their preparations and the planned concerts will proceed uninterrupted because the letter to police was “inconsequential”.

“The letter doesn’t affect [the concerts] in anyway because a lawyer can’t instruct police to arrest someone,” one of the organisers of the latest concerts said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The complaint
The accusers of Mr Fally Ipupa had in their complaint to police said the musician’s act of taking their money and failing to perform was “criminal in nature and amount[ed] to obtaining money by false pretence”.

“By virtue of this complaint, we request Uganda police to immediately halt any performances by Mr Fally Ipupa until he refunds our client’s money together with incidental costs and arrest him upon arrival in Uganda,” they noted.

Mr Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, said they received the petition and are awaiting guidance from their directorate of legal affairs.  

“We have received the document and we have given it to our legal officer for Kampala Metropolitan Police, which is currently analysing [it]. Tomorrow, he will give us his legal opinion about the matter; so, let us wait patiently,” he said.

Mr Fally Ipupa, 45, is set to stage two shows in Uganda, one at the Green Light Stadium in Arua tomorrow, after which he flies to perform in Nairobi, Kenya, before returning to conclude with a highly-billed concert at Kampala Sheraton Hotel on Sunday.

By last evening, scaffoldings projected in the skyline from the Onduparaka Football Club stadium west of Arua city centre, and close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Uganda, as the hired events manager erected a stage for the performance.

Lying at the enclave of the Congo-South Sudan-Uganda borders, organisers were upbeat the Arua concert would draw record crowds of Congolese, South Sudanese and Ugandans in northern part of the country where Mr Fally Ipupa stardom specifically, and Congolese music in general, enamours due to shared heritage of natives.  

The musician is described on Wikipedia as famous for his “melancholic soft tenor voice, emphatic and emotive dance moves, as well as his unique blend of contemporary and traditional Congolese music genres including Congolese rumba, soukous and ndombolo”.

His career
In a music career already spanning two decades, some of Mr Fally Ipupa’s notable titles include Associé, Amore, Nzoto, Un Coup, Nyokalessé, Maria PM, A Flyé, and Eloko Oyo.

He is many things rolled into one: a guitarist, song writer, producer, singer and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) ambassador in DRC.