Why Stewart Copeland Spent the Night in an African Jail
Stewart Copeland has detailed a dicey night he spent inside of an African jail.
The Police drummer was filming a documentary about the origins of American music when he got into some trouble traveling between what was then Zaire – now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo – and the Republic of Congo.
“The guy says, ‘You haven't got a Zaire entry or exit visa, and that's a problem,’” Copeland recalled during an appearance on The Bob Lefsetz Podcast. “They put us on a boat back over to Zaire, back across the crocodile infested, fast flowing Congo River that separates these two halves of Congo. And we got back to Kinshasa and a guy's there and he's surrounded by people and everybody's, there's not like a line to stand behind. Everybody's there throwing their passports in his face, trying to get his attention.”
Alongside Copeland was the film’s Belgian director, who began to get “a little heated” by the chaotic scene. His frustration was not appreciated by the border guards.
“Suddenly we’re dancing cheek to cheek with the men with guns and they're frog marching us out of the building and handcuffing us to a bench,” Copeland remembered. The two stayed there from day until night, wondering what was going to happen next.
“Eventually, the sun goes down and it's getting into evening and [the] changing the guard,” Copeland noted. “Have we been forgotten or what?”
'Bribery' Helped Stewart Copeland Get Freed
The rocker got the attention of a guard who was unaware of the reason behind the duo’s detention. Copeland and his associate were then moved to a different holding cell.
“They took us into a building, kind of a building shed,” he recalled. “Couldn't even give it the dignity of being a proper prison, you know, but they locked us up for the night.”
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The two eventually got word to the Belgian ambassador, who “showed up with beer for the guards to cool things out.”
“Bribery took care of it,” Copeland wryly remarked, adding that he was given a brief apology for the “little misunderstanding” when they were freed the next morning.
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Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci