A new exposé investigates Afrika Bambaataa's alleged sexual abuse of teenage boys in the '70s and '80s.
Afrika Bambaataa is currently at large following accusations of sexual abuse leveled against him, first in March, and then by three more men in April. This afternoon, VICE published an article in which they interview three of Bambaataa's alleged victims and investigate "a decades-long cover-up by the Zulu Nation and a hidden network of victims whose lives were allegedly haunted by death threats, suicides, drug abuse, and violence."
Ronald Savage, who was the first person to accuse Bambaataa of molestation, said that he was 15 when he first the Zulu Nation leader at a local party at the Bronx River Houses. "To me, he was cool. He was like a god," Savage said. "It was like, 'This is the guy I had always heard about.' Everybody knew who Afrika Bambaataa was back then." Bambaataa enlisted him as a "crate boy" and began molesting him in 1980. After the abuse stopped, Savage said that he attempted suicide multiple times.
Hassan Campbell, the second alleged victim interviewed in the VICE piece, emphasized that Bambaataa's abuse was a regular occurrence. "This wasn't no one time thing," he said. "This was an ongoing thing for several years."
Campbell said he has communicated with other victims who are "are scared to death to come out. "Bam was like the godfather," he added. "A lot of parents in our community were on drugs, and Bam took advantage of that."
The third alleged victim featured in the piece was identified only as "Troy." Like Savage and Campbell, he grew up around the Bronx River Houses and became acquainted with Bambaataa at neighborhood parties.
The victims compared the Zulu Nation to the Catholic Church, an organization that takes advantage of boys from unstable families and is concerned first and foremost with protecting its own members. "Bam took the kids who were struggling—the kids who didn't have good parents and had nothing," said an old associate of Bambaataa. "It's all about the money. These guys [in Zulu Nation] are on the payroll—doing security, carrying equipment. A lot of them have felony records. They can't get other jobs. They needed that paycheck. So they would keep quiet."
Read the full piece here.