US ice cream company in row with Kenyan musician over lewd video

A man walks past a Coldstone Creamery outlet in Nairobi.  The US firm has sued musician David Oreyo Ngala  through its local franchise holder Om Nom Nom Ltd. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA
A man walks past a Coldstone Creamery outlet in Nairobi. The US firm has sued musician David Oreyo Ngala through its local franchise holder Om Nom Nom Ltd. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

American ice cream seller Coldstone Creameries has sued a local musician for posting on YouTube a music video that he shot at its Westlands parlour despite its objections to the move.

Coldstone has asked the Constitutional and Human Rights court to compel David Oreyo Ngala to pull down the video, which it considers to be sexually explicit, and bar the artiste from making it public, arguing it could destroy the firm’s brand.

Mr Ngala, who goes by the stage name Ngalah the Brand, shot the video at the parlour on March 1 with permission from Coldstone, which now says it had warned the artiste not to make the video public after reviewing it.

The artiste is yet to respond to the suit. Justice Isaac Lenaola has ordered Mr Ngala to respond to the suit before May 20 when the matter comes up before the judge.

Coldstone has sued through its local franchise holder Om Nom Nom Limited, which also runs pizza chain Dominos in Kenya.


“Om Nom Nom categorically affirms that in its fundamental belief the video is depraved and damaging to the respectable reputation of the petitioner and licensed brands of Dominos and Coldstone. Despite the warning not to release the video, Mr Ngala has emphatically said that he will release it. In fact, the respondent has already posted the video on YouTube,” says Coldstone.

Mr Ngala is a guitarist for popular local band Yunasi which plays a brand of music it has dubbed Sesube — a mixture of Sega, Isikuti and Benga. Coldstone has enjoined the Kenya Film Classification Board in the suit, and says it has already lodged a complaint with the Ezekiel Mutua-led regulator.

The ice cream seller does not however specify whether the regulator has taken any action regarding its complaint.

Immoral behaviour

Om Nom Nom started operating the two franchises in Nairobi in 2014, and plans to expand its business to 16 outlets at a cost of about Sh445 million. The firm has a 10-year franchise contract with Dominos and Coldstone that expires in 2024.

The fast food chain says the music video will permanently link its Dominos and Coldstone brands to sexual content and promotion of immoral behaviour hence damage its image locally and internationally.

Katherine Njeru, a human resource manager at Om Nom Nom, says that Mr Ngala’s threat to release the music video to the public has infringed on the firm’s freedom of conscience and its right to dignity.

She wants Justice Lenaola to bar Mr Ngala from further promoting the disputed music video on social networking sites pending the determination of Om Nom Nom’s petition.

Ms Njeru adds that Om Nom Nom tried to resolve the dispute amicably by offering to help Mr Ngala edit out the parts deemed offensive, but that he instead threatened to release the video.

“Om Nom Nom, through its digital manager, even offered to help Mr Ngala edit the video to meet brand standards. However, he has frustrated any such efforts. Mr Ngala through an email dated April 27, blackmailed Om Nom Nom that he will release the video in a bid to arm twist the petitioner to yield to his unconscionable demands,” Ms Njeru says.

The firm wants the High Court deputy registrar to keep the original disc copy of the video under lock and key until Justice Lenaola determines the case.