|The German HipHop/Rap music has
grown from its humble begin to a trendy multi-million Euro business. One
of the pioneers of this music sector is the activist, songwriter, rapper
and music producer Adé Odukoya. In an interview with Afritopic, Adé
speaks about his experience as an Afro-German living in Germany, the
differences between the two worlds, Africa and Europe, his activities
against racism and discrimination as well as his goals in the music
Afritopic: You were born in Europe. How
was your childhood?
Adé: I was born in London to a Nigerian father and
German mother, but grew up in Nigeria. My parents met in Germany while
my father was an automobile engineering student in London. Like most
Nigerians, he decided to go back to Nigeria after completing his
studies. I was very young when the family moved to Nigeria.
I reflect on my childhood in Nigeria with joy. My
upbringing was full of love and happiness. I was a part of a large
affectionate family where friendship was natural.
Afritopic: You speak Yoruba very well.
Did you learn the language at school?
Adé: Unlike most children of mixed Nigerian/foreign or
expatriate parents, I did not attend a private school. My parents wanted
their children to grow up in a typical Nigerian community and interact
with the local environment. I attended “Jakande” public school and
later the Federal Government College, Mina in Niger State. Most of the
pupils at these schools speak Yoruba. I practically grew up speaking
Yoruba with my friends especially in Lagos and in Port Harcourt where I
lived for sometime.
Afritopic: You are now living in
Germany. What happened?
Adé: A tragedy occurred while I was at college. My
father was murdered in a tragic incident. My brother and sister who were
present at the site of the incident became traumatized. My mother did
not feel safe in Nigeria anymore. It was a challenging situation for the
family. My mother had to take a decision in order to keep the family
together and help us overcome the tragedy. My mother later took us on
vacation to Germany. She talked to us, explained the family situation
and asked us of our opinions. She asked me whether I would like to stay
in Germany. Being aware of the situation and the feelings of the rest of
the family, I realized that the most reasonable option we had was
Germany. We decided to move to Germany.
Afritopic: How did you feel when you
knew that the family must leave Nigeria?
Adé: I felt sad. It was in fact the saddest moment in
my life. Nigeria is my home. In Nigeria, I have a sense of belonging.
Germany was very far away. Though, I was on vacation a couple of times
in Germany with my mother, I could not really relate to the country.
Afritopic: How was it at the beginning starting a new life in
Adé: Life was hard at the beginning. Our first place of
resident in Germany was Leverkusen, where a friend of my mother was
living. We later moved to Cologne. I only understood a few German words.
The behaviour of the people was very strange to me. I was used to
approaching and mixing with people in Nigeria, but I quickly noticed
that the people in Germany tend to keep to themselves. It was really
difficult for me to communicate and socialize with the people. I tried
and eventually made a few contacts. This gave me the opportunity to
compare and see the differences in the cultural behaviours between
Germany and Nigeria. In Nigeria for example, I could visit my friends
anytime. If my visit happened to be during lunch/dinner time, I am
automatically welcome to join the family for the feast. As a teenager in
Nigeria, the parents of my friends took the role of my parents as
disciplinary authorities when necessary. This also applied to my friends
when they visited me. There was an atmosphere of togetherness,
understanding and acceptance. In Germany, whenever I visited a friend
and it happened to be lunch/dinner time, I would be told to wait in a
room until the lunch/dinner is over. This behaviour was bizarre to me.
It was not easy to make real friends.
Afritopic: How did you cope with the situation ? What role
did your family play in overcomming the initial difficulties ?
Adé: I count myself as one of the luckiest people in
the world for being a member of my family. My mother was working for the
Lufthansa in Nigeria and could continue working in Germany if she wanted
to. In order to give us all the love, care and support that we needed,
she decided not to work. Despite tight financial situation, she was
always there when we needed her. She taught us not to forget were we
come from and to be determined in reaching our goals. There is only a
year difference in age between my brother and me. We are very close
friends and supportive of each other. Due to my upbringing and life in
Nigeria, I was relatively self-assured. I grew up in a middle-class
environment and was a scholarship student in Nigeria. My self-esteem
helped to resolve some of the problems.
Afritopic: You had to continue your secondary school/college
education in Germany. Did you experience insults, abusive,
discriminatory and racial expressions ?
Adé: In the beginning, I was not conscious of racism.
The abusive words and expressions that were used did not mean much to
me. I grew up in a loving environment with a German mother. So, I could
not understand the meaning and the motives behind such expressions. It
took me about five years to really comprehend what racism is all about
and realize that not every German is like my mother.
Afritopic: While in the secondary schoool, which profession did
you have in mind ?
Adé: In the secondary school in Nigeria, I was more of
an Arts student. I wanted to become a lawyer. But I was afraid that my
German was not good enough to compete in Germany. Meanwhile, the HipHop/Rap
music was becoming popular. The cliché that every Black has rhythm and
consequently every Black could rap was spreading as well. Some people
approached me to join their HipHop group as rapper. I gave it a trial
and it was fun. I started learning more about the music and improving my
rap technique. With time, I was getting more and more into HipHop/Rap
music. By the time I completed my German advanced level certificate, I
had already worked together with various HipHop/Rap groups and organized
a series of workshops. My professional line was thereby defined.
Afritopic: Your professional field is HipHop/Rap music. Do you
have mentors, people you look up to, respect or admire as musicians ?
Adé: Yes I do. I admire musicians like Mariam Makeba,
Bob Marley, Public Enemy and a couple of others. I respect the late Fela
Anikulapo Kuti. I look up to musicians that left their home countries to
live and work in Europe or the US and went back to develop and
popularize their indigenous music. I can relate very well to such
musicians because I am now in the same situation they were. However,
this does not imply that I hero-worship them.
Afritopic: Do you also relate to them in terms of the content of
their lyrics ?
Yes. A prime example is Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Through his political
lyrics, he made Nigerians as well as the international community aware
of the political and economic challenges facing Nigeria. He tried to
highlight the resources and potentials available in Nigeria. He
endeavoured to forecast and create visions of a better Nigeria. My
father used to tell us about Fela’s work, the effect of his lyrics on
the people and the reactions of the people on power. In terms of
Literature, Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe are respectable Nigerians to
be mentioned. In terms of music, Fela definitely deserves his place as
one of the greatest African musicians with high political impact.
Afritopic: Do you play a musical instrument ?
Adé: No. By the time I got involved in the HipHop/Rap
music, the computer has replaced musical instruments. I could have
learnt to play the guitar. But I was not patient enough. I like writing
and have done a lot of song writing. My primary goal is to become an
accomplished rapper. That is why I concentrate on training and improving
my vocals while my brother is responsible for production and the
technicalities. We complement each other and make a perfect team.
Afritopic: Writing in general is a skill. Apart from writing
songs, do you think you could also go into writing novels or poems?
Adé: I do not think so. I know many Nigerians who are
very skilled in writing poems or novels. I also have a lot of friends
who are incredible writers. I cannot compare myself to them. To compare
myself to them would be suicidal. Some of them have won local and
international prizes. I believe that I am good at song writing. Though,
some of the Nigerian poets do appreciate my writing skills and encourage
me to write scripts. I have also done three theaters. One of them
“Coloured Children?!”, which is an HipHop musical performed in
Cologne, won the 1st prize at the German Youth Culture Award.
I like working with children and organizing/producing children programs.
I see my environment from the multicultural perspective. I am working
with other Afro-Germans in order to share and exchange views and ideas.
I would like to understand their perceptions of life/situation in
Germany. I am of the opinion that there are a lot of opportunities in
this conglomerate of different nationalities. For now, I am trying to
establish myself as a Rap vocalist.
What inspires or motivates you to be creative and write
Adé: In most cases, I am motivated and inspired by my
environment and the people around me. Some of my ideas are derived from
my dreams, the impressions from beautiful women, beautiful moments and
personal experience. Some musical artists like Fela Anikulapo Kuti are
also sources of inspiration and motivation. I like learning and I will
continue to learn like an apprentice from all sources available. I am
like a sponge. I absorb a lot of information like the way a sponge
absorbs lots of water. I have a lot of ideas that I would love to
realize. I might be slow in implementing most of my ideas. However, I
believe that it all depends on time and I prefer to wait for the right
time. My goal is to be a creative songwriter and rapper with the talent
bestowed on me by the Gods. I hope to achieve a high level of
Afritopic: You say : « ..by the Gods .. ». Are
you religious ?
Adé: Yes I am. I am very religious. Religion is a
personal issue. Everybody is free to believe in whichever religion
he/she wants. For me, it is important that I come to terms with my own
African religion. I believe in an African religion; the Yoruba religion
“Aborisha”. It is rather unfortunate that most of us Africans do not
recognize, appreciate, respect or believe in our indigenous religion
until we travel out of Africa and see others worshipping our
Deities/Gods. Aborisha, Orisha worship, is practiced in Cuba, Brazil as
well as in some other countries in North and South America apart from
Africa. I believe that the concept of “Ifa” is one of the oldest
religion concepts created by mankind. The fundamentals of the Yoruba
religion are based on tolerance. Unlike some other forms of religion,
the Yoruba religion tolerates other beliefs and never propagates the use
of force. It is sad that wars are waged, people are killed and evils
done in the name of Christianity, Islam or other religious beliefs. I am
neither questioning the rights of the people nor putting myself in the
position of a judge. I am only expressing my opinion. It is now time for
Africans to start appreciating their own original forms of religion. We
should not allow imported religions to cause bloodshed and sorrow.
Afritopic: You have been very productive. Could you tell us
about the projects you have carried out within the HipHop scene ?
Adé: After working and performing with some national
and international artists, I founded the HipHop-group called Exponential
Enjoyment with Mola Adebisi. The single by the group was one of the
earliest German HipHop records. I later moved on to form another group
“Weep Not Child” in the early 90s. The characteristic of the group
is the usage of multi-language lyrics. The resonance to our music was
great. I started getting more involved in the Afro-German issue and
decided to write a book dealing with the issue. I wanted to understand
what is included within the context of “Afro-German”. In order to
have a better insight into the experiences of Afro-Germans that were
born and raised in Germany, I read the book “Showing Our Colours”.
After reading the book, I realized the big difference between my
experience growing-up in Nigeria and the experience of Afro-Germans
growing up in Germany. I felt that I was lucky, privileged and
exceptional. I wanted to put more effort in promoting the
Black/Afro-German awareness. I wrote and produced a song called
“Afro-German”. The song gained positive critics and praise but did
not do well commercially. I started organizing workshops and theaters
for youngsters initially on my own but later on contract. As mentioned
earlier, one of the theaters “Coloured Children?!” won the German
Youth Culture Award. The HipHop/Rap music community was getting larger.
The Afro-German consciousness was growing and I noticed that people were
interested in Afro-German/ HipHop theme. So, I approached some of the
Afro-Germans that I knew in the music sector to propose doing an album
together. We agreed and tried to get the support of record companies. It
was tough. The record companies were not interested. Their question was:
“What do you want from this society”? They believed that our music
was too political, agitating for black/afro-German empowerment. They
were of the opinion that the lyrics of such songs like “Liberation
through music” might be too demanding for the German audience and the
records would eventually fail to sell. ”The people are only interested
in entertainment and not in political agitations”, they said. We had
to give-up. It was frustrating.
Afritopic: How did you overcome the frustration and move on ?
Adé: I disbanded “Weep Not Child” after four years.
In 1998, my brother Don Abi, Patrice, Amaechina and myself got together
and decided to form another group “Brotherhood Alliance Navigating
Towards Unity” (BANTU). It was intended to be a loose Afro-centric,
HipHop/Rap group. We wanted to do HipHop/Rap music with very strong
African flavour. We did a couple of shows and recordings near Cologne
that were well received by the audience. This gave us the courage to
continue. Meanwhile, it has been almost 5 years that I had not been back
to Nigeria. I could not go to Nigeria because I was on the blacklist due
to my political activities against injustice and human rights violation
issues. Moreover, it was still dangerous for my family in Nigeria.
The chance to visit Nigeria came after the death of general
Abacha and the formation of a transition government. I decided to do a
music video to a traditional Igbo song called “Nzogbu”. The theme of
the video was intended to capture the imagination of Nigerians. My idea
was to shoot the video packed with lots of cliché scenes such as
showing Nigerians in the latest Mercedes Benz cars with navigation
systems and other sophisticated electronic features. We shot the video
in Germany incorporating interesting pictures and colonial footage to
form a collage. Our next task was to promote the CD/video in Nigeria. On
getting to Lagos, we tried to distribute the CDs/videos. Initially the
people did not know what to expect and were reluctant to play the
CD/video. They probably thought we were Reggae musicians due to our
dreadlocks. We later made a breakthrough. At one of the Radio/TV
stations, one of the workers frankly said to us: “Oga u na go do us
good Oh”! (Boss, you have to give us some money). This we did. It was
then they listened to us and eventually realized that we speak at least
a Nigerian language, which made very good impression on them. Soon, our
CD and video were on all channels and up in the charts. The people could
relate to the rhythm. They found the sound simply fantastic. We started
receiving calls through the radio stations. The people wanted to know
more about the new HipHop/Rap group BANTU. We had the best reception
everywhere we went to. We felt really loved by everyone. By the time we
were to leave Nigeria, we were highly motivated and in high spirits.
Lagos was really inspirational.
Afritopic: Did you capitalize on the on
the motivation and inspiration from Nigeria?
Adé: We planned to capitalize on the inspirational
experience in Nigeria and started new projects in the studio. But soon
after initiating the projects and on the way to finishing an album, I
became a father. About a year later, German Nazis in Dessau killed
Alberto Adriano, a Mozambican father of three children, married to a
German. I heard of it on the day I was supposed to get engaged. My
spontaneous feeling was to take an action. The media reported the
incident and there were rounds of discussions on the incident. But I
knew that the German government was not going to take any commendable
action. This was not the only black to be killed by Nazis in recent
years. In 1990, Nazis in Eberswalde beat the Angolan, Antonio Amadeu
Kiowa to death. Each time, the incident was reported and discussed
briefly. In the discussions, the message seems to be that there is more
tolerance now in the German society than many years ago. Things have
changed for the better. But, I am of the opinion that this is not true.
I am aware that I cannot compare the killing of Adriano to holocaust and
I do not want to downplay the magnitude of the holocaust. However, I do
believe that the German Government could have erected a memorial Symbol
that reflects the rejection of such recent nazi atrocities. The German
government cannot concentrate only on the atrocities committed over 50
years ago and neglect the recent ones. I made up my mind to voice out my
opinion about the incident and called my closest friends to brainstorm
for a course of action. We came up with the idea of creating a song in
memory of Adriano. In order to realize this idea, I decided to
collaborate with other artists and contacted members of the group
“Brothers Keepers” that I know. Others were recommended or
introduced to me. We worked creatively together and recorded “Adriano
Afritopic: What was the reaction of the
record companies, the press and the public to the song?
Adé: The first couple of record companies we approached
refused us with the usual argument that the song is too afro-centric and
somewhat rebellious. With a great deal of effort and networking, a
record company finally accepted to buy in. The managers of the record
company were fascinated by the beat and the big names like Xavier Naidoo
that participated in the project. We shot a music video to the song and
approached amongst other music media, MTV. To our surprise, MTV found
the video very good and even decided to power-rotate it. At that time,
only the videos of two international artists namely Madonna and Ricky
Martin enjoyed the privilege of power-rotation. The video was already
rotating two weeks before the release of the single and mouth-to-mouth
advertising eventually made the release very successful. The single was
climbing up the charts within a short period after the release. VIVA did
not want to loose out and decided to show the video on its channel. The
focus was primarily on the music and not on the ethnicity of the group.
The group was getting media attention while the message of the lyrics
was spreading across to all boundaries. We decided to respond as a group
to the enquiries we received through the media and called the first
Black Conference. It was there that it happened. What we were not
expecting happened. All of a sudden, the focus of most of the German
journalist at the conference turned to our ethnic background. The
atmosphere of the conference heated up in the first thirty minutes. We
were accused and attacked of being pro black, afro-centric, propagating
for black empowerment and separatism. The journalists were getting
almost out of control with their accusations, when a German woman stood
up, turned to us and said in a soft tone: “ Excuse me, in the name of
all my colleagues that are present here, I would like to formally
apologize to you. Never in my 20 years in journalism have I experienced
a situation like this; where people have to justify why they do what
they are doing. What I witness here is very hostile and it is necessary
that you continue to do what you are doing. There is still a lot to do
in this society regarding this issue”. With that, the attendees calmed
down and began an interactive discussion. The incident reveals the
latent fear of the Black man that still exists in this society. It is a
phenomenon we have to deal with.
Afritopic: How did the single sell?
Adé: The single “Adriano (Letzte Warnung)” was a
success for us. The response was overwhelming. About 340.000 singles
were sold which injected money into our foundation. We created an
educational fund for Adriano’s children and helped to take the corpse
of a young Nigerian, who died in police custody, home to Nigeria. We
organized educational information about racial issues in German
secondary schools and were involved in the “Voters Mobilization
Campaign” in the last (2002) German elections. We felt that we should
use the publicity gained to achieve some of our goals and increase the
awareness of Blacks/Afro-German issues in the German society. During
this period our website registered an average of 180.000 visitors per
day. Prior to this, the majority of the People, even those who have
Black/Afro-German friends, were not aware of Blacks being Germans.
People started realizing that not only Whites could be German. There are
also Black Germans. We feel that the events helped to change some of the
perceptions the Germans have of Blacks. Many of them now know that not
all blacks are asylum seekers or foreigners in Germany. With all the
activities regarding the hit single, we have been able to make a
statement that Blacks/Afro-Germans are integral part of this society
with all the rights due to them. We are speaking in this context for all
German minorities, because the most extreme form of being German
physically is the status of a Black German. I am really happy with the
outcome and the impact of the project on the German society.
Afritopic: Are you working with the
Brothers Keepers on new projects?
Adé: Through the Adriano project, we got to know each
other better and became friends. We have started working on a second
album, which will be released soon. The success of “Adriano (Letzte
Warnung)” despite the political message of its lyrics also had an
emotional impact on artists within and outside of Germany. Groups and
organizations around the world commended us for our actions. Many could
not believe that we really made it happen in Germany. It was for them
incredible. The positive responses also encouraged Brothers Keepers
including Xavier Naidoo to be more politically involved in
Black/Afro-German issues. This was a very strong psychological support
for me as an activist. I am not alone. Nobody could point an accusation
finger at me. We set up Brothers Keepers, UK and Brothers Keepers,
Jamaica. Collectively, we are about 50 people fighting to create an
environment where Black children in Germany would not have to ask
themselves: “Where do I belong”? We want to create an environment
where Black children would not have the feeling to explain themselves
and why they are here in Germany. We are fighting to pave the way for
equal opportunities that will enable Blacks to use their competences to
achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. While I was growing up
in Nigeria, it was normal that teachers ask their pupils what they would
like to be later in life. When the question was posed to me, I answered
with boldness and confidence that I would like to become the head of
state. My Teacher replied: “ Fine. You just have to work hard and make
sure that you have your academic qualifications. The sky is your
limit”. On my first day
at school in Germany, after introducing myself, the question from my
teacher was, “Are you an asylum seeker”? This was disgusting. The
unwritten rules in Germany deprive Black children of their chances. With
our actions, we would like to build up confidence in the Black
community. We do not want Black children growing up in Germany to have
the feeling that they cannot be somebody. We want Black children to
believe in themselves. I am of the opinion that we have achieved
something unique with the Adriano project, the effect of which we are
going to realize in years to come when we are old.
all the events related to “Adriano (Letzte Warnung)” you
have practically started a movement. What could the Black community do
to keep this movement alive?
Adé: It is necessary for Blacks to come together and be
supportive of each other. The name “Brothers Keepers” indicates this
necessity. If we are each other’s brothers/sisters keepers we would be
ready to take up responsibilities for ourselves. Unfortunately some of
us in the black community have fallen into the web of resignation. They
are not motivated to confront and fight against the discriminatory
system, believing that nothing could be changed. This is definitely not
true. A lot could be changed with adequate effort and tenacity. A single
person might not be able to carry the burden alone. But collectively we
are strong enough to achieve a remarkable change in the system. Some of
us might feel unconcerned about the racial issue and are not ready to
voice out their opinion. However, they must be conscious that, they
still represent the image of blacks wherever they are in the German
society. Each one of us could contribute in his/her own way to fight
against the system. But it is also very important to be directly
involved in the political movement as the Brothers Keepers do. You are
fighting for change. You are part of a movement, part of history in your
lifetime. All people of African descent living in Germany should form a
formidable force to fight against racism and discrimination in every
form. We have to create a situation of change. Together, we could
facilitate the creation of such a situation. Along the way, however, we
have to be careful not to let the concept of divide and rule block our
way. I am very critical about this issue. Africans and Afro-Germans have
to come together to establish a common ground of understanding. The two
communities could exchange and merge their experiences to the advantage
of all. I envision a new Germany, where an Afro-German that has gained
valuable cultural experience from the African community in German, could
be sent to Africa as an ambassador by the German government. In this
case, we have a German with African roots representing Germany in Africa
and not just a German from a “Technisches Hilfswerk” who cannot
relate to the continent at all. We have a very unique situation in
Germany, which we should exploit to our advantage. We now have
Afro-Germans in the second and third generations and relatively large
number of Africans compared to some years ago. We can all learn and gain
from each other’s experiences. We can reinforce each other’s
positive and strong features to make us even stronger. We should not try
to create two parallel worlds between us. This will lead to division and
make us fail woefully.
Odukoya & his brother Abi
Afritopic: You have been very active in
the HipHop/Rap scene. Do you plan to move into another direction, for
example the film industry as an actor in the future?
Adé: Yes, I do. I would be going into acting as soon as
I have the chance. I think that acting is very challenging. I do not
know when and where the opportunity will arise. But I am looking forward
to being an actor. Right now, I am concentrating on finishing the second
BANTU album, which would soon be released first in Nigeria and later in
Germany. I would like to focus on music at the moment. I have planted
the seed of recognition here in Germany and would like to see it grow.
That is why I am channeling my all my talents and energy into the music
business. Nevertheless, I do not forget where I come from. I would be
going home to Africa to promote the album. I have gained a lot of
experience in Germany, where I have spent almost half of my life. As the
saying goes: “ The university of life is the best”. In Africa, I
intend to apply the knowledge I have acquired in the music scene to
attain a high level of recognition for BANTU. I want to inform the
people about how life in the music business is in Europe. In addition to
my African friends in the music industry, I have established contacts to
other African groups, which I hope to work together with and produce
innovative music. With all these activities, I keep on learning and
hopefully, others could also gain from my experience.
Afritopic: This comment is often heard:
“There are negligibly few Afro-centric films because there are no
scripts suitable for black actors”. What is your opinion and thinking
about your writing talents, could you write film scripts?
Adé: I am learning. I know Blacks who are talented
scriptwriters, film directors and producers living in Germany. We should
not start looking for excuses for why we cannot do something. We have to
be ready to sacrifice. We have to invest our time and whichever talent
we have to produce for example our own movies. Generally speaking, fame
does not come overnight. The German film industry engulfed many years of
hard work and generations of actors to get to where it is today. Looking
into the black community in Germany, the success of Xavier Naidoo does
not come cheaply. He works hard. He works the night through while many
of us are snoring. He is in the studio working overtime while many of us
are partying. The way to glory is not as easy as some of us want it to
Afritopic: There is the notion that
Blacks are deprived of opportunities. Do you think that it is now time
for us to start fighting for our rights?
Adé: The question is: “Are we ready to sacrifice and
what are we ready to offer”? We are in a unique situation in Germany.
The experience of the two world wars and the well-documented holocaust
atrocities are still on the political agenda. The Jewish community makes
sure that the issues remain unforgotten. In response, the Germany
government tries to appease those affected by offering reparation
payments. Regrettably, atrocities committed against the Blacks in
Germany as well as the fact that the Berlin Conference through the
“Berlin Act” legalized the division of Africa seem to be forgotten.
It is our duty to come together and make our demands known to the German
Government. We should start fighting for our rights as part of the
German socio-economic community. That is what Brothers Keepers is doing.
We are bringing Black/Afro-German awareness to the focus and making our
Afritopic: What is your opinion about
the German media in relation to Blacks?
Adé: In general, the portrayal of Blacks in the German
media is discriminatory, prejudicial and biased. The German mainstream
media portray Blacks in the most racist and degrading ways one could
imagine. The linguistic form and images used in relation to Blacks are
defamatory. It is therefore very important that we fight to correct the
negative image of Blacks that is common in the German media.
Afritopic: In which ways could Blacks
correct the distorted image presented by the German media and create a
better image for themselves?
For the fruits to come out of the tree, they have to know where the
roots are. In this sense, Blacks in Germany should make use of all
available information channels to understand their own history,
heritage, culture and appreciate black achievements as well as who they
are. This means that we Blacks have to educate ourselves. By educating
ourselves, we acquire the necessary knowledge, which is instrumental in
dealing with prejudice and various forms of discrimination. The majority
of Africans, who came to Germany after the wars, came to study with the
intension of going back after completing their studies. They were few in
numbers, had practically no rights and were not in the position to fight
against the perpetual discrimination they experienced. They had to sadly
accept the insulting image of Blacks as presented in the media. In most
cases, they returned to Africa after spending about 5 years in Germany.
Today, the situation is different. We have a growing number of African
descendants that are born in Germany and have acquired the German
citizenship. Like myself, there are other Africans/Afro-Germans with
German passports. There are other Blacks who are permanently resident in
Germany. We can voice out our political opinions and fight for our
rights. Yes, I know that it will take a lot of time and energy. It could
also be frustrating. But do we want to just sit around and complain or
do we want to create alternative media? We could inform ourselves
through our own media. That is why it is necessary to have our own
news/information channels like the African Courier, Afritopic, and other
Afro-centric media. However, being in Europe, we have to interact with
the European media and channel our information to the mainstream media.
Equipped with the knowledge of what we want and how we want to be
called, we could then start educating the German media and the people.
It is sometimes irritating to see a German, who does not have any
relationship to Africa, being introduced as an Africa expert in a
discussion forum. The argument of the German media is usually; there is
no African in Germany who is an expert on the African issue. The German
has apparently been named the Chair of an African Institute. The fact
behind the scene is that an African with the required expertise on that
subject matter would be discreetly rejected to take the chair. We have
to inform the mainstream media about our competences. We could educate
the people in the media on how we want to be portrayed, presented and
called. We could stipulate the words we do not want to be used when
referring to people of African descent. In the USA for example, some
words that imply racism or discrimination have been officially banned
for use in the media. In Germany, we have to fight against the media
exaggerating ethnicity in cases of judicial proceedings against Blacks.
We have to fight for the creation of anti-discriminatory law as they
have in Canada.
We have to be determined that we want a change. We have
to be confident that we can achieve the change. We should voice out our
demands as loud as possible. We have to think of long-term goals. The
battle against racism cannot be lost. We have to rally as many people as
possible to relentlessly continue the fight to the end. We have to put
pressure on the media and if necessary take our case to the European
Court of Justice. Blacks survived the horrible slave trade. Blacks have
survived countless inhuman conditions. In some African countries like
Nigeria, people survive several hours of traffic hold-up daily under
scourging sunshine with smiling faces. We are endowed with stamina and
can successfully fight against racism if we combine all our efforts. In
Germany, we are learning to unite and organize ourselves. We have
organized informative and networking events such as the recently held
Black Media Congress. The activities of Brothers Keepers have induced
the process of change and contributed to Afro-German awareness. The
success of the Brothers keepers has motivated a lot of people. The
mainstream media was ready to listen to us. The RTLII, one of the
largest mainstream media invited Brothers Keepers to one of its shows.
Before the show, Brothers Keepers advised the RTLII team on the words
that are not to be used when presenting the group. We advised the team
not to use the words “Neger, Schwarz or Farbig”. The word
“Afro-Germans” should be used to describe members of the Group. At
the show, Brothers Keepers was presented as the group wanted to be
presented. This was possible because Brothers Keepers educated the RTLII
team and offered alternative words.
do you personally cope with the situation in Germany? Are you
Adé: I have learnt from my experience as well as from
my friends, in particular the older Africans and I am still learning. I
have learnt from other peoples’ experiences or mistakes. I call Africa
my home. I do not constrain myself to Nigeria alone. There are other 53
countries in Africa at my disposal. I would like to take advantage of
the multiple choices. I believe that the only way to survive is to love
life. In order to love life, one has to experience Africa. It is in
Africa that you experience love in its purest form. This might sound
like a cliché. But anyone that has been back home will agree with me. I
wish that every activist, visionary and every Black person would visit
the continent and experience the love.
Despite all the terrible historical events and the
present situation of institutionalized racism, we should learn to
forgive but not forget. I have been very active and will continue to
contribute to the fight against discrimination in all its forms. Like
every other human being, I have my ups and downs. I experience my share
of depression. I experience progress and backslashes in my projects. As
an activist at the forefront of the battle, I have my moments of doubts
and I think it is necessary to sometimes express this feeling of
uncertainty. You have to show the people that you are not always the
very strong person they assume you are. You have to let them know that
you need other peoples´ help and support. You need them to carry you
when you are down. Being vulnerable and showing myself in my complete
nakedness, it is difficult for anyone to harm me. I am not perfect. Adé
is not perfect. Adé will never be perfect. Anybody who tries to reflect
perfection is going to fail. I am just an apprentice of life. I am a
reflection of what I have experienced growing up in two different worlds,
Africa and Europe, with the love and affection my parents gave me. I am
the vision of my parents, when they met and entered into a beautiful
relationship. It is my duty to live their dreams as my dream. No matter
what I encounter and how difficult the situation may be, I will succeed
by working hard. There is always a ray of light after darkness and
sunshine behind the cloud. That is me. That is the sum of me, Adé.
Afritopic: Thank you Adé for the
interview. Afritopic wishes you strength, luck and success in all your
Founded the Hiphop-group Exponential
Their legendary single „Think
for a Moment/ Style Introduction“ is the third German hiphop
LP with Exponential
Enjoyment: „Chop Or Quench“.
The first multi lingual hip hop album. The rhymes and verses are sung
and rapped in 7 languages.
LP „Expo’s Jazz & Joy“. First free jazz / hiphop-project of its
kind with Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald, Sainko Namtchylak und
Founded the group Weep
Not Child (WNC).
Hoyerswerda to Rostock“
Weep Not Child „Liberation
thru Music & Lyrics“, LP (Groove Attack)
Weep Not Child „Je Ka Bere“,
Maxi single (Groove Attack)
Legendary concert at the „Leverkusener
With Exponential Enjoyment,
Adé is enthusiastically received by the media and jazz fans at the 23.
German representative (with
WNC) at the „Barcelona Accio Musical“ in Spain
German delegate at the „Printemps
de Bourge“ Festival in France
German contribution to the
Europe wide campaign of Media Against Racism („Medien Gegen Rassismus“)
with the Weep Not Child-Video clip „Je Ka Bere (Let’s Start)“
Guest Features on Jazz
saxophonist Reiner Witzel’s „Passage to the Ear“ and Kastrierte
Presenter of „Good Morning
Africa“, English Service, Radio Deutsche Welle
Alliance Navigating Towards Unity (BANTU) with Don Abi, Patrice und
Released the album „Fufu“ with
BANTU in West Africa - two Top Ten Radio Single hits in Nigeria
Co-founder of Nitty Gritty
Music und X-Amount Publishing with his Manager Thomas Hürtgen.
Founded Brothers Keepers
(Afro-German Music project)
Released „Adriano (Letzte Warnung)“ with Brothers
Keepers. The single made it to No.4 on the German Pop charts. This
was followed by other successes not only musically but also socially and
In two years Adé
and his Brothers Keepers Foundation have not only released two
singles and an album but also spent well over €200,000 in social
projects and numerous campaigns in and around Germany.
A successful year both
musically and politically is rounded up with Bantu’s performance at „Chiemsee
Reggae Festival 2002“. They share the stage with the British Band UB40
with whom they collaborate on their next project
single „Rudie (Hold It Down)“ with Bantu, UB40 und Gentleman calls
out on all Rude boys to throw away their guns and try to solve their
differences in a none violent manner. Release date is the 23.06.2003
(Virgin/ Nitty Gritty)
This is to be followed by the explosive debut album of
BANTU a soul, reggae, hiphop, afro funk call to rally on the dance
With guest appearances by Xavier Naidoo, Patrice und