Afrika Bambaataa has been accused of sexually assaulting several young men as children, and a new statement by the Universal Zulu Nation implies he has stepped down from his leadership role with the organization.
After continually defending the South Bronx, New York native, the international hip-hop organization he founded in the 1970s has announced they are “under new leadership.”
Zulu Nation released a statement on their official website that does not name Bambaataa but says that everyone who was accused of and assisted in covering up sexual abuse allegations have resigned or have been removed.
The statement reads:
The Universal Zulu Nation wishes to announce that it is currently under new leadership by the International and Regional U.S. Zulu Leaders. This will involve a significant restructure and will feature an in-depth re-assessment of how the organization will function to better serve our communities. As part of this restructure ALL accused parties and those accused of covering up the current allegations of child molestation have been removed and have stepped down from their current positions.
Over the coming months there will be significant changes to the organization in terms of roles, structure and establishing the policies any organization of our size should have in place. There shall also be a new move to work towards providing support for victims of abuse, rape and molestation and working more closely on other social issues existing in communities such as drug addiction, alcoholism and mental health.
We are saddened by current events. Not only because of the trial by social media of which we have been subjected to as an organization, but because until now the previous leaders and founders have been ineffective at being able to respond in a way which our members and associates deserve of us. Especially when our good work spreading the Zulu message has empowered communities worldwide. We would like to offer our sincere apologies for this.
As an organization we are in a very difficult position because we are being asked to condemn one of our founders based on testimony through social media alone. We cannot do this. We also cannot dismiss the comments of parties asserting they have been harmed. We have a duty to search for truth. We also need to be mindful that if these allegations are true that victims discussing this in a public forum has not come easily. We the Universal Zulu Nation wish to extend great sympathy to anyone affected by such issues. We know that respect and compassion need to be at the forefront of how we deal with such topics in the future, this has been a lesson in learning for us.
The public is asking for justice and we would welcome constructive suggestions on how that could be effectuated properly. At the moment it is unclear on how best to proceed, we would like to know how the claimants would like to take the matters further towards some form of resolution where the truth can be established. We can not legally speak on behalf of the parties in question in regard to the current allegations. Individuals must speak up for themselves & advice from their legal teams should be sought.
Our restructure is a positive step towards organizational change for our worldwide family of members and the great community programs they continually run which spread the message of Peace, Love, Unity and Having Fun.
Ronald Savage was the first of several men to speak up about Bambaataa’s alleged sexual abuse. In April, Savage told the New York Daily News about how he spent time with the hip-hop pioneer as a 15-year-old.
“I want him to know how much he damaged me growing up,” 50-year-old Savage told the site. “I was just a child. Why did he take my innocence away? Why did he do this to me?”
Savage was part of the UZN and says two incidents occurred while he was in the organization. Savage says Bambaataa fondled him once, and another time he forced him to have oral sex with another Zulu member. The victim said he wanted to speak out about the abuse that made him suicidal in order to change the statute of limitations laws in New York.
A week later, Bambaataa issued a statement to Rolling Stone denying the claims. He said the “allegations are baseless and are a cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time.”
UZN then released a statement to AllHipHop defending their leader, claiming the accusations are part of a “U.S. government sponsored media attack” on Bambaataa and the organization. They add it is “a continuation of its decades-long “HIP HOP COINTELPRO” campaign to discredit and destroy the Universal Zulu Nation.”
Since then, the Daily News reports three more men stepped forward to accuse Bambaataa of sexual abuse. All of the men involved said the MC showed them pornographic videos or photos and gave them oral sex.
An anonymous man told the website he knew “what Ronald Savage is saying is true because he did it to me. ”
A 51-year-old victim named Troy – who wanted to be identified by his first name only – said he has “a lot of anger about this. I’ve been dealing with this for years. It’s a shame this didn’t come out earlier.”
Hassan Campbell, the third man, said he spoke to Bambaataa and Zulu Nation officials about his sexual abuse. The victim, who looked at the leader as a father figure, posted an angry video online but removed it once the officials agreed to meet with him.
During the meeting, Bambaataa is said to have acknowledged the abuse and apologized to Campbell. The hit maker of 1982’s “Planet Rock” promised to get counseling, open a center for troubled youth and resign from the Zulu Nation.
“He never did any of those things,” Campbell said. “He’s a manipulator and a liar. He’s just waiting for this chaos to blow over so he can go back to his dark, dingy hole and go back to his old ways. He needs to put down the candy and let the little boys go.”
The Zulu Nation stuck by their founder and called Campbell “both a liar and a government-paid police informant.”