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Posted August 21, 2008 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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(Original title: Rap on the run)

Rob Sharp | NewStatesman.com

Wanted by the FBI for black activism in the States, Nehanda Abiodun fled to Havana, where she became the “godmother of Cuban hip-hop”

Outside a run-down apartment block in the eastern suburbs of Havana, a group of teenagers plays football in the street. They meet and greet each other like long-lost friends with hugs and slapped handshakes, and gesture to the top of a nearby building. If you follow their instructions to climb four flights of stairs, you can hear the sounds of local rhythms echoing down a corridor where a party is in full swing. Inside a tiny flat, a dozen people sit around a sitting room where the conversation and white rum flow freely.

The occasion is the 58th birthday party of the apartment’s owner, Nehanda Abiodun. She cuts a fine figure, a black woman who looks younger than her age, and she’s in celebration mode today, but her happiness belies the intensity of her life’s struggle. Abiodun, who was born Cheri Dalton, is wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with a string of robberies, including a 1981 hold-up of an armoured car near Nyack, in upstate New York. An exile in Havana for the past 20 years, she is now known as the “godmother” of Cuban hip-hop and founder of a Havana chapter of Black August, a seminal group that promotes hip-hop culture at the grass roots. Since the chapter’s formation it has held charitable concerts in New York and Havana featuring high-profile artists such as Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Common and Dead Prez, and until 24 August its work will be one of the highlights of this year’s Havana Hip-Hop Meeting and Festival.

Abiodun’s life has been inextricably linked with protest, and the music of protest, since her youth. Born in 1950, graduating from Columbia University in 1972, she formed her extreme political beliefs - those of “New Afrikans”, political idealists who believed in the foundation of a black-only state within US borders - while working at an experimental drug detox programme in the South Bronx, New York. The programme operated under the banner of a militant black rights group that viewed the political radicalisation of its patients as essential.

“I came of age during the 1960s, a time of unrest, sit-ins, student strikes, mass protests and urban rebellions,” explains Abiodun as various friends, and their relatives, sit on her knee. “The music that was being composed at that time reflected what was happening across the nation. Songs like [James Brown’s] “I’m Black and I’m Proud”, [Marvin Gaye’s] “What’s Going On” and [McFadden and Whitehead’s] “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” were tunes not only to dance to, but which had lyrics that made you think and want to be involved in positive social and political change.

“Hip-hop for me was a continuation of that tradition. At the beginning it was a very important contributor to community debate regarding the conditions that existed, and still persist, in US cities,” she says.

It is alleged by the US authorities that the group Abiodun was involved with went on to form the core of “the Family”, a politically motivated, New York-based underground crime organization….


  1. Follow up post #1 added on August 21, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    These closet communists really bother me. They are either too stupid to know the truth or don’t want to know the truth.

    So, this Nehanda Abiodun is such a great woman, huh?

    If you read all the propaganda about this “black militant”, even from the wikipedia entry here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nehanda_Abiodun , she has a warrant out for her arrest for medical malpractice.

    Great woman as you can read here too http://socialjustice.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/index.php/Nehanda_Abiodun

    Nice job Rob Sharp, you ass.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on August 22, 2008 by cubanpete with 127 total posts

    Perhaps Rob will next write puff pieces about the murderers now resident in Cuba of New Jersey and New Mexico state police officers

    For change (cambio) we can believe in.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on August 22, 2008 by Pablo

    Well, I think that this is the same old shit: One man’s terrorist is a another’s freedom fighter.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on August 22, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Yeah, you’re right. You have to kill a couple of US police officers in order for black people to be free.

    Pablo, I guess you are not serious saying that this alleged murderer is really a freedom fighter.

    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on August 22, 2008 by Mako with 172 total posts

    Sounds like a common street criminal to me . I guess if you want to really stretch it, you can use the word “activist’ to justify any kind of vile rhetoric and behavior .

  6. Follow up post #6 added on August 26, 2008 by Ed

    This is the first time I’ve heard about Nehanda Abiodun, having read the short piece on Wiki’ and then followed a link to hear from Abiodun herself I cannot understand what the fuss is about.

    She appears a fighter for equal rights. The remark earlier about there being a warrant for her arrest relates to her weening a patient of methadone in such a way as to enhance the chances of success without causing extra pain and suffering.

    You know, since I fear so many opinions aired on this forum are weighted and loaded to present information for one reaction or another, one has to scrutinize everything written. Any facts seem to get tangled into webs of anti-fact or fiction in order to muddy the water. This is the only defence people have against facts whether palatable or not. This is precisely the game played out by a countries and political movements the world over. It’s a shame we have to play these games. I believe these very same dark forces are at work now in the US’s run up to the election, I don’t of course use the word ‘games’ lightly, for these games affect the lives of many people throughout the world.

    I prefer to have the facts for it is only then that one can ever form a sound opinion or argument.

    For example, how do we know that Havana Journal is not sponsored by the CIA?, I have found myself wondering why HJ not been tapped up for peddling Cuban interests whilst being based out of the US

  7. Follow up post #7 added on August 26, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    We are not involved with the CIA or any other government operation. We do not take USAID funding. This is an entrepreneurial venture trying to provide an impartial forum for discussion about Cuba.

    You are wise to read everything about Cuba and US Cuba policy with a cautious eye but in this case, she is wanted for murder in the US and she should stand trial.

    Cuba consulting services

  8. Follow up post #8 added on August 26, 2008 by Ed

    I’m unsure as to whether she would receive a fair trial in the US for the so called crimes. I’m also at this point, unsure as to what involvement she had in those crimes, whether as accessory or directly and whether or not the crimes were committed in the name of politics etc.

    Publisher, you made an initial remark referring to her as ’ a closet communist ‘. To say the least it is painting a picture with a broad brust stroke.

  9. Follow up post #9 added on August 26, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    ws going to stay out of this but feel i have to make a comment on this.
    Yes she is wanted for murder but i think this is tainted by the times.  The latter 60s was not America’s most glorious times, activists were being pursued by all the might of the law and there were several questionable incidents where they were killed in confrontations with the police. To show how fair the times were one only has to look at the punishment given William Caley.
    I personally think the best thing is to just let her continue her new life and continue to hope we’ve all learned from those turbulent years.
    Just my 2 centavos worth.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on December 13, 2009 by Rob Sharp

    who are you calling an ass?

  11. Follow up post #11 added on December 13, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    I was referring to the author Rob Sharp as a closet communist. He believes the Communist utopia propaganda and willingly or unknowingly helps to promote it.

    So, #10, if you are the Rob Sharp who wrote the article then I am calling you an ass for making this woman your hero when she is wanted by the FBI.

    If she is innocent, why doesn’t she come back to the US and face her past?

    She must wake up and walk around every day wondering if this will be the day they come for her.

    She’s probably scared to death that US Cuba relations are warming. Cuba will round up these criminals and send them back to the US as goodwill someday.

    Cuba consulting services

  12. Follow up post #12 added on December 13, 2009 by Rob Sharp

    I’m just writing to say: be careful when making highly defamatory, insulting remarks about anybody, especially journalists who’ve spent months, if not years, researching articles. Thankfully your use of the phrase “closet communist” is so laughably anachronistic that I can tell I’m wasting my time trying to engage you in any kind of intelligent debate.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on December 13, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Wait. Good Communists don’t give up that easy.

    You have to blame the US Embargo first then deflect the argument away from the propaganda. Say something like how the FBI is corrupt and how the US legal system is bias against black women.

    C’mon Rob, if you are going to run with the Fidel loving big dogs that are regulars here, you’ll need to come up with more of a fight than throwing in the towel so soon.

    Maybe I’m not as smart as you but “anachronistic”? That means out of chronological order right?

    How is my comment “anachronistic”?

    Lastly I should “be careful” to criticize you yet you give up the argument so easy? How am I wrong in my characterization of your work?

    Cuba consulting services

  14. Follow up post #14 added on December 13, 2009 by paul

    #12 Is a huge baby. You can defend criminals but can’t handle being called what you are? lol.

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