Ade´”Bantu” Odukoya

Ade´”Bantu” Odukoya

Ade´”Bantu” Odukoya

Ade´”Bantu” Odukoya

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 industry.

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 some time.

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 Germany ?

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 ?

Adé: 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 music 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.

Afritopic: What inspires or motivates you to be creative and write songs?

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 creativity.

Afritopic: You say : « 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 (Letzte Warnung)”.

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.

 Afritopic: With 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.

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 be.

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 demands explicit.

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?

Adé: 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.

Afritopic: How do you personally cope with the situation in Germany? Are you sometimes depressed?

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 endeavours.       


Ade´”Bantu” Odukoya in concert 2006

Ade´”Bantu” Odukoya in concert 2006


 Afritopic 2003 


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