UPDATE: In a statement released May 6, 2016, the Universal Zulu Nation announced that it is now operating under new leadership and the organization will undergo a significant restructuring following Afrika Bambaataa's removal. "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."
Revealed last month in his self-published memoir Impulse, Urges and Fantasies, former New York State Democratic Committee member and Bronx Judicial Delegate Ronald Savage says that, when he was 15 years old, he was coerced by Afrika Bambaataa, 23 at the time, into performing oral sex. Bambaataa has called the allegations "baseless," a "cowardly attempt to tarnish my reputation and legacy in hip-hop at this time," he writes. Now, three more men have told the New York Daily News that they, too, were molested by the hip-hop pioneer when they were children.
Following Savage's allegations, 39-year-old Hassan Campbell told the Daily News that he used to hang out at Bambaataa's Bronx apartment as a kid. Bambaataa was like a father to him, he says: when he was hungry, he would give Campbell a meal, when he needed a place to stay, he'd give him a bed, when he needed money, he gave him cash. "He had the most fun house in the world," Campbell told the newspaper. "There were celebrities there, musicians, neighborhood heroes. It was the best place to be — and the worst place to be." Bambaataa sexually abused Campbell "numerous times," he says, when he was 12 and 13 years old.
Campbell kept in touch long after the abuse. Bambaataa put money in Campbell's commissary account when he was in prison. "He was a big part of my life," he says. When Campbell posted an angry video a few months ago (since removed) detailing the sexual assaults, Bambaataa requested a meeting, where, Campbell says, he apologized and promised that he would seek counselling, open up a youth centre, and step down from the Zulu Nation — promises that have yet to be fulfilled.
The Universal Zulu Nation, the long-running hip-hop awareness group Bambaataa founded, has threatened a defamation suit against Savage and suggested these accusations were a part of a coordinated effort by the government, the police, and the Daily News to ruin the South Bronx DJ.
But a 50-year-old New York man who requested anonymity told the paper: "I know what Ronald Savage is saying is true because he did it to me." He and a North Carolina man named Troy (who asked that his last name be withheld) say that Bambaataa molested them too.
Savage is pleased others have come forward to support his claims. He wants to keep talking about his experiences. And he wants others to join him. Today, child victims pursuing criminal charges or civil litigation in New York are prohibited by a strict statute of limitations for sex abuse cases that expires after the victim's 23rd birthday, when oftentimes, victims don't feel comfortable coming forward with their traumas until much later.