“On behalf of the members of the Universal Zulu Nation worldwide, who have made their voices heard through their chapter leaders, 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 organization, previously led by Bambaataa, said in a new statement (May 31).
“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 Universal Zulu Nation also called out specific victims who have come forward about the alleged abuse including Ronald Savage and Hassan Campbell.
The statement continued, “In addition, we acknowledge the negative impact of our organization’s response on survivors of sexual exploitation and assault everywhere, especially within the communities that we call home; we are to be part of the solution, not the problem, and previous statements and actions from former leaders failed to live up to this promise.”
The Universal Zulu Nation went on to say that they will continue to work to educate their members and communities on child molestation and sexual violence, as well as pursue justice for Bambaataa’s alleged victims.
Last month, Bambaataa — most known for his 1982 single “Planet Rock” with Soulsonic Force — responded to the allegations in an interview with Fox 5 News’ Lisa Evers. “I never abused nobody. You know, it just sounds crazy to people to say that, hear ‘you abused me,'” he said. “You know my thing is you know all my people back then, you know the hundreds of people that been around me. If something like that happened, why you never went to none of them?”
Zulu King EL One (real name Robert Rodriguez), Zulu Nation’s coordinator for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut told The New York Daily News that a bulk of the members believed the allegations to be true. “Most of the membership would like to hear what the victims have to say,” he said.
“[The statement] is not necessarily new,” Bambaataa’s lawyer Charles Tucker Jr. tells Billboard. “It appears it’s coming from within turmoil in the organization on who’s really in charge and it’s an attempt to thwart credibility without really addressing the allegations. My client stands uncharged with no settlements and no payoffs even though there’s been attempts in recent weeks by some of the alleged victims to receive payoffs.
Tucker also said that existing members still continue to support Bambaataa. “Even today, across the country and worldwide, there are still a lot of members of the Zulu Nation who still strongly support Afrika Bambataa,” he added. “That not only speaks truth to what’s going but it speaks volumes in regards to these allegations about who people really believe.”
A rep for the Zulu Nation was not immediately available for comment.