sexual abuse

Afrika Bambaataa Removed As Universal Zulu Nation Leader Amid Allegations of Child Molestation

Smithsonian's National Museum Of American History's Hip Hop Initiative
Bambaataa. Photo: Scott Gries/Getty Images

Hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa appears to have been removed as the leader of the Universal Zulu Nation amid growing allegations of child molestation, according to an announcement from the organization. Last month, Ronald Savage, a former New York State Democratic Committee member, accused Bambaataa of sexually abusing him in 1980, when Savage was 15 years old.

Since then, three more men have come forward with similar allegations: A man named Hassan Campbell told the New York Daily News that Bambaataa repeatedly sexually abused him when Campbell was 12 and 13, calling the DJ a “pervert” who “likes little boys.” Two other men whose identities were not fully disclosed also say Bambaataa abused them when they were minors — a former bodyguard also claims Bambaataa abused “hundreds” of young boys since the early 1970s. Bambaataa has denied all of the allegations.

Initially, the Universal Zulu Nation (which Bambaataa founded in the ‘70s) defended their leader, calling the accusations a “government-sponsored media attack.” But in a press release issued on Friday, the organization now says it is significantly restructuring its leadership. Despite not mentioning Bambaataa by name, they note: “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.” The Zulu Nation also calls public scrutiny — including from Talib Kweli — over how the organization has handled the allegations “trial by social media.” Read their full statement below:

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.

Afrika Bambaataa Removed As Zulu Nation Leader