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The idea for the project took root in the 1990s, and when a German of Mozambiquan origin, named Alberto Adriano, was brutally killed by neo-Nazis in Dessau (East Germany) in 2000, a group of musicians decided to organize and fight back.
The following quote is about Adriano's death and its effect. It can be found on the project's website.
|“||Als Alberto Adriano an Pfingsten 2000 von Neonazis in Dessau ermordet wird, hinterlässt er eine Ehefrau und drei Kinder – eine Familie, die nun nicht nur lernen muss, ohne ihren Vater und Mann zu leben, sondern zugleich verstehen muss, dass er starb, weil er ein Schwarzer war.||”|
|“||When Alberto Adriano was killed on whitsun 2000 by neo-nazis in Dessau, he left a wife and three children behind - a family that not only has to learn to live without a father and husband, but also has to understand that he died because he was black.||”|
Brothers Keepers has local groups active in information campaigns, presenting teach-ins at schools etc. However the project primarily gained prominence in Germany through the collaborative album, Lightkultur. The title is a pun on conservative politician Günther Beckstein’s term "deutsche Leitkultur" ("German leading culture"), demanding that foreigners subject themselves to the supposed standards of German culture. The album features German musicians such as Torch, Samy Deluxe, Afrob, Denyo from the Beginner and D-Flame. The proceeds of this album went to charity.
Brothers Keepers presented themselves and delivered their message in traditionally masculine ways. Their presentation was heavily influenced by the Black masculinity of mainstream American Hip-Hop, but maintained a distinctly Afro-German identity and spoke to Afro-German issues. Especially in lyrics and videos that were explicitly against Nazism and anti-Blackness in Germany, they formed a confrontational masculine collectivity. This was reaffirmed by their exclusion of women from their music and videos, an absence which they claimed was due to female performers being pregnant or on maternity leave. Some of the female performers in question, Sisters Keepers, contrasted with that masculinity with a rhetoric of peace and coalition-building rather than direct confrontation. In fact, in the music video for Sisters Keepers's "Liebe und Verstand," members of Brothers Keepers make visual and auditory cameos, giving the song a gendered authenticity. Although Brothers Keepers sought to reaffirm Afro-German identity with a masculinist perspective, it is important to note that the formation of the Afro-German identity was done largely by Afro-German women.
The lyrics on the album are influenced by Black Power rhetoric and are militantly anti-Nazi, proposing solutions to racism ranging from education to violence. The militancy is especially well illustrated in the German Top 10 hit "Adriano", a seven minute tour de force produced by DJ Desue, featuring the crème of German rap. Its video shows a procession of rappers, marching as a united front and the chorus, sung by South African-descended R&B star Xavier Naidoo, goes thus:
|“||Dies' ist so 'was wie eine letzte Warnung, / Denn unser Rückschlag ist längst in Planung. / Wir fall’n darein, wo ihr auffallt, / Wir bieten eurer braunen Scheiße endlich Aufhalt. / Denn was ihr sucht, ist das Ende. / Und was wir reichen sind geballte Fäuste und keine Hände. / Euer Niedergang für immer! / Und was wir hören denn ist euer Weinen und euer Gewimmer.||”|
|“||"This is something like a final warning, / As we have been planning our counterstrike for a long time. / We intervene where you emerge, / At last, we offer resistance to your brown shit. / ‘Cause what you want is the end. / And what we offer are clenched fists and not our hands. / Your downfall forever! / And what we’ll hear is your crying and your whimpering."||”|
|“||Ich sage K, sage Z, sage Nazis rein / Ich will nicht labern, denn ich kenn mein Vaterland / Macht es mich krank wie Masern, dann verspür ich Tatendrang / Ich fühle mich eingeengt und will statt Prominenz / Und statt großer Fans, Nazis die wie Poster hängen||”|
|“||"I say K, I say Z, I say Nazis in there / I don't wanna talk 'cause I know my country / Does it make me sick like measles, then I wanna act / Then I feel constricted and want instead of fans / Nazis who are hanging like lampshades."||”|
The project is not limited to Germany. It focuses on manifestations of the African diaspora throughout the world and is supported by international artists such as Jamaican reggae musician Ziggy Marley and Senegalese mbalax musician Youssou N'Dour. There is also a UK Brothers Keepers, which, while lacking the organizational superstructure of its German counterpart, contributed a track to Lightkultur.
There is also a female version of this Movement/Band called the Sisters Keepers.
|2001||Lightkultur (with the Sisters Keepers)|
|2005||Am I My Brother's Keeper?|
|2001||"Adriano - Letzte Warnung"|
|"Will We Ever know?"|
A list is available on the website.
- Adé Bantu
- Don Abi
- Ebony Prince, Germ
- Eased of Seeed
- Harry Belafonte
- Joachim Deutschland
- Jah Meek
- Ono Ngcala
- Patrice Bart-Williams
- Such A Surge
- Samy Deluxe
- Toni L
- Tyron Ricketts
- Xavier Naidoo
- Youssou N’Dour
- Ziggy Marley
- Weheliye, Alexander (2009). "My Volk to Come: Peoplehood in Recent Diaspora Discourse in Afro-German Popular Music". Black Europe and the African Diaspora.
- "adriano - letzte warnung". YouTube. Retrieved 13 July 2013.