Koffi Olomide was born Antoine Christophe Agepa Mumba in Kisangani ,Democratic Republic of Congo on July 13 1958. His father Charles Agbepa is Congolese (from the Gbandi tribe) while his mother Amy is of Sierra Leonean and Congolese descent (Songye tribe from Kasai region). His mother named him Koffi which means Friday as is the tradition in parts of West Africa where children are named based on the day of the week they are born.
At the time of his birth, Koffi’s mother was in poor health, a condition that was triggered by depression caused by loneliness and isolation. Koffi’s father had abandoned her and was considering leaving his wife and children altogether. She was so depressed that she could not breastfeed newly born Koffi. To make matters worse, Koffi was in poor health and most people thought he would not survive beyond infancy. He was nicknamed Antoine Makila Mabe (Antoine bad blood).
Even in childhood, he showed signs of being passionate about music. At age 7 he would go around singing a song “Soso ameli Ngando” which means The Chicken has swallowed a Crocodile. He would sing it so often that it became his nickname. Nobody knows the origin of that song, not even Koffi. By his teens he would simulate songs by famous musicians but add his own spin on them. He was especially enamored with the music of Tabu Ley.
He soon became adept at writing his own songs. One neighbour was so impressed by Koffi’s songwriting skills that he offered to teach him how to play the guitar. Koffi would soon be borrowing the guitar often to practice on his own.
Meanwhile Koffi also excelled in the classroom. He was born into a family where education took precedence above everything else. He has earned a bachelors degree in Business and Economics from Bordeaux University and a masters in Mathematics from the University of Paris.
His father was not keen on Koffi’s musical career. It was his elder brother Johnny Ko who encouraged Koffi to pursue a career in music and even convinced their father to let Koffi pursue his musical dreams. He commenced his musical career as a songwriter. In the late 1970s sung with Papa Wemba’s band Viva La Musica. Here He learned his vocal and stage techniques. He launched his solo career in the mid 80s and has turned out to be one of the biggest success stories in African music.
He is married and has seven children, Nzau Twengi Aristotle O’Neill, Elvis, Minou Miss Universe, Didi Stone Nike, Rocky, Del pirlo Mourhino and Saint James Rolls. He chose western souding names for his children in defiance of the La’ Authenticite policy in which President Mobutu mandated the use of indigenous Africa names instead of western names. He has two brothers, Johny Ko and Tutu Roba
A religious and spiritual man in his private life, Koffi’s songs reflect his thoughtfulness. He says his mother told him that he was born with one hand holding his chin as if in deep thought.