Interview with Bantu
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"I am Ade Bantu, I live in Cologne, I'm a musician, activist, producer, street poet."
Ade Bantu may live in Cologne, Germany.
But he grew up in Lagos, Nigeria.
His mother is German, his father was Nigerian.
When Ade Bantu was sixteen, his father was murdered in the streets of Lagos.
He says music offered a way for him to heal.
But since moving to Germany after his father's death, Ade Bantu says his music has served other purposes as well.
Bantu: "Music was born out of necessity over here in Europe, especially in Germany, where being a person of color you don't really have a lot of people you can relate to and then it goes as far as not actually having people come over to you and wanting to relate to you. So music was kind of the cliché I used to gain access to this society and before I knew it it became a vocation."
Ade Bantu's music begins with Nigerian musical idioms like juju, fuji and afro beat.
He says he uses them to counter the negativity he hears in a lot of modern pop music.
Bantu: "Hip-hop used to be such a predominantly positive force and at some point some people thought they could hijack it and they definitely did. And I question the role of so called boys that refuse to be men. Whereas opposed to the past where you had grown men take up the microphone and have something to say you now have kids that only celebrate negativity and that's why I really question this whole overdose of negative output."
In addition to being a musician, Ade Bantu is an activist.
He founded an organization called the Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Towards Unity, or BANTU.
It brings together Afro-German musicians like himself.
The group distributes and sells the CDs they produce.
Ade Bantu says the proceeds fund anti-racism work with young people -- work that helps dispel dangerous stereotypes.
Bantu:"I think if in 2000 -- uh 2005 as we are now in... If you decide to be a right-wing extremist then it's a very conscious decision. What we've have done is that we been able to motivate young people and that are still not certain. Especially in people in tender ages. I'm talking 12, 14, 13 years old. We've been able to show them that diversity is part of life and being German doesn't really apply to you being blond and blue-eyed. There is a lot of that diversity in it."
"There is a conclusion that with music you can definitely transform lives, you can transform society and in the process you can emancipate people. With that tool I believe that you can change the world. It may sound like it's some kind of utopia or something but I have seen it work and I am here to testify."
That's not an order.
It's the name of this tune from Ade Bantu's debut American release, "Fuji Satisfaction."
11/30/05 >> go there
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