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Music performers facing all sorts of harassment on stage

The business of entertaining is no joke at all. Just ask any comedian or music performer about it and they’ll have their fair share of stories to tell. While entertaining, performers have over and over again been forced to go to extreme ends to make sure they remain their fans’ favourite.

These stunts have been recorded for decades and this year we started with a bang, with Tanzania’s Wasafi crew jetting in for Wasafi Festival concert in Nairobi to welcome the New Year.

At the concert, multiple award-winning singer Diamond Platnumz, as controversial as he comes, invited women on stage to gyrate on his groins, but it was his compatriot Lava Lava who would steal the thunder. The Heri Tuachane singer had his groins groped by naughty female fun lovers.

For a moment, this didn’t seem to bother him until when he backed off from the eager hands of the fans some moments later. While this is one of the many crazy things that often happen on stage, some can make you cringe.

Recently, a video showing a South African rap artiste enjoying some groping from a horde of female fans while he performed, went viral. The artiste stood close to the fans who then began to touch his thighs and quickly made their way up through his orange short to his crotch.

Since the video hit the Internet, many critics pointed accusing fingers to the fans, citing sexual abuse on Cassper. Many were of the opinion that the same would not be tolerated if it were a group of men doing the same to a female performer.  This raised the debate of what’s acceptable and what’s not as far as artistes’ security while on stage is concerned. 

SECURITY CONCERNS AND DEMANDS

Before any event is held, planning takes time, as organisers have to cross their ‘ts’ and burn  the midnight oil to make the event successful. One of the things that take priority is artiste’s security.

“As an event organiser, security of the artiste is one of my priorities. This is where bouncers and other security agents come into play. Some artistes have in their rider demanding up to 10 bouncers and a number of armed police officers as the main back up,” event organiser Kayfar told Spice.

According to him, incidences in which valuables (including jewellery, cash and clothing) have been snatched from artistes occur due to security lapses. Late last year during the Jameson Connects Kenya concert at Ngong Racecourse in Nairobi, American rapper Desiigner got his sneakers and glittering chain snatched from him by some sticky-fingered fans as he performed.

A viral video of him, also captured at the same event, showed his pants being pulled off by a female fan. Jamaican dancehall star Sean Paul and Nigerian singer Davido had their phones stolen during concerts in Nairobi in 2004 and 2015 respectively.

“When Diamond came to Meru, his management insisted on having 50 armed police officers keep guard over him and his crew. On top of that, he insisted to have the stage inspected before he could perform,” adds Kayfar, who organised for Diamond’s concert in Meru two years ago.

Adding to such divalicious demands, some artistes present riders that demand heavy compensation incase of incidents such as collapsing of the stage.  Recently, Diamond tumbled off the stage while in performance in Sumbawanga area of Tanzania. Another bongo singer, Aslay, also suffered the same fate while performing at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu.

“Depending with the size of the stage and proximity to the terraces, you can have the security detail in different formations, just to make sure that the safety of the performer is guaranteed,” says James Kioko, a security consultant who offers services to VIPs in the showbiz industry.

“We normally advise our performers to also be on the look out because some people might hurl bottles and other objects that can hurt them. For male performers, the job is a bit easy because it is the women who will try to touch them and we have had just a few cases of them getting robbed out of such engagements.

The problem comes during the after-parties, as this is where the ‘escorts or groupies’ go as far as lacing their drinks in order to rob them in their rooms,” Kioko reveals.

NEED TO APPEAR ‘SEXY’

But handling female performers is more daunting owing to the fact that incidents of them being grabbed, groped and even fingered are common. Fast rising Kenyan singer Jovial, has witnessed it all.

“I normally want to look sexy and fun while on stage and flaunt my curves and even dance for my fans. However, some conditions do not allow you to enjoy yourself to the fullest, as many fans are never sober. At first, I used to crowd surf, but I stopped after some crazy fans groped my groins.

Some people take it wrongly when we demand for security, but what we face qualifies to be called occupational hazard. I need to have an accommodating environment while working,” she says.

Australian rapper and singer Iggy Azalea has confessed to being harassed while on stage. To protect herself during shows, she has taken some extreme precautions.

“I’m only doing like 2,000-seaters, but I still have to have barriers, even if it’s like 200 people, because people try to finger me. Now, no lie, I wear two pairs of underpants and then a pair of skin-coloured tights and then my pants as a protection barrier. There’s just no way I’m going to be intruded (sic),” she said in an interview with New York radio station Hot 97.

In April last year, Kenyan singer Timmy TDat was forced to issue a public apology for undressing a female fan he had invited on stage for a dance. For rapper King Kaka though, while he has ignored harassment and other crazy acts on stage, it has been a challenge he gladly accepts.

“Around three years ago, I was performing in Kisumu when a female fan grabbed my trouser and unzipped it, ready to grope my manhood. Luckily, I had my boxers on and I had to drop the microphone to pull up the trouser that was already on the floor.

Security guards were ready to beat up the female fan, but I did not allow it. I invited her backstage and explained to her why she should not have done that. Some artistes are inconsiderate and would allow the security team to beat up the fans, a situation that might end up with casualties,” King Kaka told Spice.

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