Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adé Bantu: rapping about the Afro-German identity

What is it like being black in Germany? "It's like being with a woman who you love, but who doesn't give you any attention," says the Nigerian/German musician Adé Bantu in an interview with qantara.

"Whenever Germany rejected me", he continues, "or gave me the feeling I don't belong here, and Germany has done that more than once, then I've said – phhhhfff. Then you say to yourself – hey, I'm not ugly, I'm not stupid and my heart's in the right place. That means there must be someone else out there who loves me. And I had that someone: Nigeria."

Adé Bantu is a musician and an activist. Back in 1994, he made the video and the song "Afro German", Adé was rapping about the Afro-German identity as a member of the hip-hop group "Weep not Child", and taking part in demonstrations against right-wing radicalism.

The video "Weep not Child" (1994) deals with not being accepted as a German.

When Neo Nazis in Dessau murdered 39-year-old Alberto Adriano from Mozambique in June 2000, Adé called all Afro-German artists in Cologne together "to finally break the silence." Soon after the The Brothers Keepers were born: a merger of mainly Afro-German soul, hip-hop and reggae artists, who fight against racism and right-wing extremism.

The clip "Bereit" (2005) deals with wanting to take on the fight against racism.

The Brothers Keepers is not just a musical project, but also a charitable association to which more than 90 artists now belong, among them numerous well-known musicians such as Samy Deluxe, Afrob, D-Flame, Toni L., Torch, Tyron Ricketts, Don Abi, Patrice, Xavier Naidoo, and many others.

Read the full interview here

Interesting detail. He co-directed Nigerian-German hip hop/soul singer Nneka's video "Africans".


  1. This is is a very interesting post. I've never heard of Ade Bantu before, but in a class at my university in the US, we spent a lot of time studying afro-germans and the black diaspora in germany. Bantu's quote that being black in Germany is like "being with a woman who you love, but who doesn't give you any attention" really sums up a lot of the reading and research we did. It seems like white Germany never understood or accepted the notion that Afro-Germans are not merely black people who happen to live in Germany, nor are they necessarily Africans living in Germany. Instead they are black Germans. It's not as if most of these people have another culture that they identify with more than the German one. They are German through and through, and they are also black. Those two things should be able to appear next to one another in a sentence, though unfortunately many people don't seem to agree. We should hope that at some point, the popular definition of a German person (and the German nation) will not necessitate white skin

  2. Hi benpitler,
    Thanks for your comment. I think there's some debate within the Afro-German community about the definition of Afro-German.

    You might also be interested in a post of Sibo, who also writes on this blog. He wrote a very interesting post about being Afro European.

  3. also, for those interested:

    Being Black and Becoming European: Un/Settled Migration and Hidden Histories

    Call for Papers Deadline: 2010-02-28

    “Striving to be European and black requires some specific forms of double consciousness”
    Paul Gilroy - The Black Atlantic, 1993


  4. Interestingly enough, I am also in the class benpitler was in and coincidentally found this website. This reminds me of a movie we watched, entitled "Everything Will Be Fine," in which two Afro German women have an affair. Nabou and Kim both have to deal with feeling like their country doesn't love or accept them. The movie depicted what Ade Bantu, along with countless other Afro Germans, have to deal with on a daily basis.

    Bantu, however, is lucky that he feels that loving response from Nigeria, as many Afro Germans are stuck in limbo between Germany and an African country (sometimes they don't even know which one). Many feel disconnected from the African part of their heritage, partly because it is looked down upon so they try to distance themselves and partly because they usually don't have contact with their fathers.

    This post and Bantu's song really illustrate the struggle that Afro Germans go through in terms of identity, and hopefully more media like this will call attention to the situation.


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