In early April, former music producer and politician Ronald Savage claimed hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa sexually abused him as a teen during an interview with the New York Daily News. One week later, three other men also accused Bambaattaa of sexual abuse. Bambaataa denied the allegations and said he "never abused anybody" during an interview with Fox 5 in May.
Zulu Nation, the hip hop awareness organization Bambaataa founded in the late 1970s, initially denied the sexual abuse claims in a statement released to the Daily News. They called Savage "mentally challenged" and said "the N.Y. Daily News and its so-called objective reporters have been compromised and controlled by U.S. government intelligence.”
But on Tuesday, the same group apologized to Savage and the other alleged victims in another statement sent to the Daily News. "We extend our deepest and most sincere apologies to the many people who have been hurt by the actions of Afrika Bambaataa and the subsequent poor response of our organization to allegations leveled against him," the statement, which was signed by nearly three dozen Zulu Nation members, said. "To the survivors of apparent sexual molestation by Bambaataa, both those who have come forward and others who have not, we are sorry for what you endured and extend our thanks to those who have spoken out for your bravery in bringing to light that which most of us were sadly unaware of, and others chose not to disclose." The organization promised to educate its members about sexual abuse and to do what they can to seek justice for the alleged victims.
Zulu King EL One, the Zulu Nation's coordinator for the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area and one of the leaders to sign the apology, told the Daily News that the initial statement was written by Bambaataa's friends and didn't represent the majority of Zulu Nation's opinions. "Most of the membership would like to hear what the victims have to say," Zulu King EL One said.
However, Savage told Complex that he believed the apology was "too little too late" and was offered "just to save face."
"The older leadership knew about this for decades and did nothing about it," he said. "They covered it up to continue to get a pay day. I am very much still in shock on how they first came out because they felt no one else would be strong enough like I was to speak the truth about Bambaataa."
He added that "if the Zulu Nation means well, they need to change the name and stand fully on their own [without] this man who has hurt many people. I am looking for the law to be changed so Bambaataa could finally face what he very well has coming to him, a cell."
Zulu King EL One told Complex by phone on Wednesday that Bambaataa was removed from the organization after the accusations came out. "We have to rid ourselves of any potentially dangerous members and leaders," he said. He also said Zulu Nation will be participating in a march in Brooklyn on June 5 to lift the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse so that perpetrators of crimes like the one Bambaataa's accused of can still be convicted long after the incident.
"If there are other victims that may be out there, we just want them to come forward and know that we stand behind the victims," Zulu King EL One added. "We wanted to take a stance and let the world know we're not for bashing any victims."
Zulu Nation and Afrika Bambaata did not immediately return Complex's request for comment.