In respect of the natural path of truth and also empathy, we felt it necessary and an honour to speak with an ex-Zulu Nation member, to set the record straight, hoping to inform the world of how one man suffered out of a perverted salacity going on behind closed doors during the preliminary days of the Zulu Nation.
The Kinky In The Chain
When you hear the power in the word Zulu, you’re taken back to thoughts of the 70s movie Zulu Dawn. You think of group strength, greatness, unity, trial and victory among a tribe overcoming conflicts together as one unit. These appear to be some of the fundamentals that made the Battle of Isandlwana (1879), which the movie was based on, impossible for the British to win against the united Zulus.
Fast forward a hundred years and change, to the 80s. African Americans and their displaced counterparts around the world re-discovered and then embraced the word again; only this time as a nation with, instead of a physical battle going on, a psychological war in their midst. They combine music, rap, graffiti and dance culture together like links on a chain to a proud past. This came as a salvation to a people that had long been politically and strategically dismantled.
The new and fresh Zulu Nation was full of soul and hope, having all the potential and elements within to resurrect those ancestral spirits. It should have been as easy as A , B , C, but there was a warp in the design – a kink in the chain.
It was formed by Afrika Bambaataa, aka Kevin Donovan, aka Lance Taylor, becoming the so-called father of The Zulu Nation and Hip Hop in a sense; yet he and his associates managed to keep the fact that he was covertly homosexual, with a fetish for young boys, under their hats. This eventually became the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Ron Savage (aka Bee Stinger) was one of the early victims of Bambaataa’s insatiable sexual desire for boys. Bambaataa had befriended him as a young boy back in the early 80s. Although many have questioned why it took the victim so long to speak up, these accusers could never have imagined walking in that child’s shoes before asking such a question – yet I’m sure other similar victims may find even this still too soon. However, Ron Savage officially outed the man that many saw as a father when he released his book, Impulse Urges And Fantasies in 2014. Conveniently, it was this Fall when Ron agreed to talk with us about his painful ordeal.
After agreeing to talk on a Friday, then missing each other, then trying again and much the same the next day, we finally got to talk on a Sunday morning.
UDL• Hey Ron, finally we’re here, I knew we’d make it. After several attempts, we connected?
Ron• (Ron Smiling) Yeah! What’s up?
UDL• There seems to have been quite a bit of resistance towards accepting your story in the Hip Hop community, what do you think of this?
Ron• Off the back. To me, the way the Hip Hop world were silent about this, the fact that they weren’t talking about it, with the original Zulu Nation being quiet, to me they are all guilty as charged. I want that to be known.
UDL• I hear that, totally. To me, hearing about your experience and getting into Hip Hop at such a young age myself, this shook my understanding of what Hip Hop really is, it almost redefines my understanding of it. You, on the other hand, knowing the dark side of it at such an early age too, what do you think of Hip Hop? Do you even still like it?
Ron• As far as Hip Hop or Rap stuff, I love Hip Hop man, I helped build it. I come from Hip Hop but deep inside, as far as going to any type of movement, where I see all the original elements combined, I take a step back. Because I see what it really is, it represents pedophilia. For me, I think it was there to draw young kids to believe in something, so this man can come do this to put him on a pedestal and believe he created this and we’ll love and support it. I don’t buy it, I don’t stand by it, that’s my honest truth. But in the public, I put on a front like to enjoy it. I can endure it, only because of guys like Jazzy Jay. Jazzy Jay raised me, he brought me into Hip Hop and that can overshadow my hate. If it wasn’t for Jazzy Jay I would not support the culture. Everyone who grew up in the early stages of Hip Hop knows Bee Stinger. I was that young kid on stage. You’d see Bee Stinger with Jazzy on stage, they all knew me. I was always a Zulu, a young baby Zulu.
UDL• In the UK there were rumours about Bambaataa’s attraction to boys but they seemed unfounded. When you finally exposed him it kind of clicked with me and things started to make sense. What happened?
Ron• I’m Hip Hop’s darkest secret and I really wish everyone would stop saying rumours. They are not rumours, if you heard it in the past, then it’s true. You heard it from me. I didn’t hear rumours, I was in the 9th grade, I loved Bambaataa. I was cutting class and had nowhere to go. I went to his house, I took a cab, he’d pay for the cab and meet me downstairs. We got upstairs and there was another guy there. They were DJ’ing and there were records everywhere, turntables – I was happy. Then he says ‘You can go in the bedroom’. I’m thinking yeah man I’m going in Bam’s bedroom, I’m happy. I go in and saw a photo book on the bed. I thought nothing of it at the time but now, as a man, I realise it was a setup. Anyway, there were Zulus in the book with their penises out, some of them I knew from Bronx River. My sister’s boyfriend at the time was in the book too. It’s like I was supposed to accept it, seeing people I know in the book, like it’s alright. He told me it was okay to jerk off, but it was a setup. That nasty Motherf*****. I wasn’t into that, I wasn’t a thug, I didn’t do crime I was a regular kid. It hurts me and is embarrassing for me to say Afrika Bambaataa taught me to jerk off. Me looking back at this, he had me take vows. Another guy came into the room with his penis already out. I thought it was his intention coming in the room. I got the hell out. I remember crying, I thought this was part of Hip Hop.
He tried to make it seem alright, he has the kiddie like Jolly la la la attitude when he’s around. So you think he wouldn’t do it again. I used to ride around in his car and he jerked off but then one time he wanted me to go down on him and he went down on me. He manipulated me as a kid. It looked like I had to do it to be down. Every time he picked me up we did the same thing again. Then he started coming over to my house. He tried to put his penis in me as a kid but I told him it hurt. He didn’t but he told me to turn over and cross my legs so he could ride on me like he was doing me. That image of seeing that fat nasty motherf**** pumping up and down on me. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. He used to do this thing where he’d pat me on my head all the time, now today I don’t like people touching my head.
(Note: It’s only at this point that I understood the full vulnerability and the innocence that was stripped from this reticent child. Even I struggle hard to shake those disgusting images out of my head despite just hearing this and not experiencing it. I can only imagine the pain)
UDL• Did you ever tell anybody? Did you have any counselling for this?
Ron• No, I had no counselling as a kid. I didn’t tell anybody, I didn’t tell my parents. The Zulu Nation used to come to my house. This was my secret. All the people I was around, I saw in the book, so who could I tell?
As I got older I stopped hanging with them. The only person I hung out with was Jazzy Jay. He wasn’t like them. I wanted to tell him but I didn’t know how to. How was I gonna tell a next man that I let this man do this to me?
(Note: It is said in therapist circles that sexual abuse victims often have repressed memories. It is very likely that the whole incident can emerge or become clearer many years after deleting it from your experience as a coping mechanism. Possibly a young Ron had difficulty processing all this vice and hid it deep inside his head.)
UDL• I understand. Now, I noticed that one or two of the interviews that you did were not conducted with any form of diplomacy, the interviewers were brash and blatant. I felt the nature of the topic deserved a little sensitivity, yet received none. Why do you think this is?
Ron• Some of the radio DJs that interviewed me tried to put a spin on it, like I must have enjoyed it, like why were you around it, you must be gay and stuff. He was strong, I was young, he was from The Black Spades (gang). I’ve seen people stomped by The Zulu Nation. For the critics, I call them the new generation, I’m not gay, I was just a confused kid that was made to believe that this was what they do.
I see The Zulu Nation as a cult and I look at Poppy*. Poppy is only 35 years old so he’s (Bambaataa) been doing this forever. Hip Hop culture owes me 35 years of pain. I remember when the AIDS epidemic came out in the public, the first thing that came to my mind was that I had AIDS. They said it was men’s homosexual acts that was the cause, so I thought I had it and I was depressed for years. I was nervous day after day, after day, thinking I was gonna die. I was scared to take this test but I finally did in 2005, it came up negative but the torture of this in my mind went on for years. I feel Hip Hop culture owes me for this for what I had to endure.
*Poppy is a younger member of the Zulu Nation, who also claimed that Bambaataa molested him.
UDL• Who would you be today if all this never happened?
Ron• All the girlfriends I’ve had said stuff like I didn’t show any intimacy, I couldn’t snuggle with them in bed. I wondered who I also would be if this hadn’t happened to me. I wouldn’t even hold hands with my girlfriends. It’s only like two years ago I started to be able to snuggle up with my woman in bed, and like last year I was able to hold hands. In 2014 I was taking anti-depressants and now I am finally able to talk about it.
UDL• Why did you write the book?
The book actually was part of my therapy. I didn’t wanna open up. My therapist told me, instead why don’t you write it down? Write it all down, your whole life, the good and the bad. I just wrote and wrote. I thought, if she wants to know me she’s gonna have to know all of me. The book was really just meant for my therapist.
UDL• So when did the book become public, what made you decide?
Ron• I used the Amazon platform, it made it easy to do it. I didn’t wanna push it, I just wrote it for my therapist in 2014. Then this year I broke up with my girl and I got sad. I was thinking about my life and girlfriends, relationships and I was thinking I could have still been with my wife or my girl if this hadn’t happened to me, I could have had a different life, I could have been a better boyfriend. I just started tweeting and I was just crying out, looking for help. I had already attempted suicide three times prior. It was either that or I killed myself. Star (DJ, Shot 97) had answered my tweet and asked me to call him and I did, I was crying. He said for me to give him some time.
I tell you, this was God. About a week later the manager of the Zulu Nation: Amid Henderson calls me. We spoke but his interests were about the Zulu Nation, he asked me to take the tweets down and to sit down and talk with Bambaataa. I started taking the tweets down and each one I took down I was crying, then at that exact time Star called me and he heard how upset I was and that’s when we did the interview.
UDL• Do you think Bambaataa has sold this, sexualised cult-like Zulu Nation thing outside of the US and around the world? That’s my concern.
Ron• Yes, I believe he did. I have a mutual friend from London and he told me when he went to Bam’s house he did the same things to him. That was the other guy who did the interview with Star.
UDL• I know you can not change what happened but what do you think should happen now? What would make you happy?
Ron• That’s what I’m doing now. Especially being molested, people don’t like to talk about it. I want to make it no longer taboo. I want to break down the taboo thing. Here in New York, I’m trying to get the statute of limitations stretched to 35 years. Governor Cuomo is with us and in 2017 we believe that the statute of limitations will change. Afrika Bambaataa is out of hiding now and he was recorded saying he wants to re-shape the Zulu Nation. Telling them to stop acting like bitches, he made his point implying that when Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby were accused they didn’t change their format. Subconsciously that’s him admitting guilt.
My message to Bambaataa is, in 2017 when the statute of limitations is lifted, with the one-year window we’ll see then. They won’t allow criminal charges but only civil charges. I’m telling people to stand up to their abuser. If I’m saying this I must also do this. That’s where my gratitude is, something that I will be satisfied to take to court. I don’t want money, I don’t want nothing from that man. When I win, I will donate one hundred percent of his money to a charity to benefit other people who have been abused.
And I have a message for his lawyer too, he was big and bold when he said he had never been accused “Not today, not yesterday, not the day before yesterday, not ever“. The only reason he can grandstand any way he wants like that is because he knows there’s nothing that can be done. So let’s see him grandstand when I take his ass to court then there’ll be charges today.
Ron• When the Zulu Nation first issued the statements about me being a liar and crazy, the only reason it took so long for them to make those statements was that they tried first to get me to meet with Bam and they offered me money. It’s only after, when I refused, that they issued the statements.
UDL• Because they couldn’t make it go away?
Ron• Yes, also please note that the best time I had in Hop Hop, when I was a kid was being paid after the parties, we were being paid in White Castles Hamburgers, Bambaataa use to take us to White Castles to eat after the parties and that was our payment for helping out.
Also I wanted to add that, I don’t recognize the term Hip Hop Culture because that is a term Bambaataa coined and I don’t know what his intention was when he coined the term it represents pedophilia to me, but what I do recognize is Hip Hop and I salute the rebirth of the Hip Hop movement.
Interestingly, Bambaataa originally denied knowing Ron Savage only to turn around later and state on Fox 5 news that he was only in his presence when amongst people. It’s not only the inconsistency in Bambaataa’s story but the truth in the eyes of the victim and that is where most conclusions are drawn from.
This one’s a tuffy. Only because it is the father of The Zulu Nation that I myself looked at as a hero. What this wave of culture did for me as a child was beyond words, who I became, how I think and write, my escapism from physical abuse, all based on this primary influence called Hip Hop. You just don’t want it to be real like most but that’s the same denial that drowns any chance of a remedy. But it wasn’t the same for Ronald Savage, he had a different experience. Although there were things that was clearly fun around the culture, he also suffered for it.
When a child is robbed of his natural path towards intimacy by a violation in his personal space, at an age where you’re unsure of boundaries and normal sexual practice, you have to wonder who and what he would have been in absence of this. It’s only fair to ask this question and to call out the perpetrator because that defining day that the predator decided to action a filthy thought on a child, for that child, there is no statute of limitations. It isn’t ever going to go away. Whatever traits or character flaws Ron may display, there was certainly somebody that birthed them and as the father of them responsibility is surely required and an apology is the least that can be offered. Until such time I remain far from the organisation unless some new data make my feelings otherwise.
Yet nothing just happens. My bet is that it didn’t start with Bambaataa, but with something that happened to the child Lance Taylor. I’m sorry for what you became, however, you became it, sorry to Ron for what you endured on behalf of Hip Hop and sorry Hip Hop for dirtying your name.