Episode 54

Published on:

25th Jun 2021

Maboneng Life

Wesley Pepper chats to Taye Uhuru AKA Camp Cleveland. The musician recently authored a book. They talk cooperative economics and pan africanism.

This is a podcast where we talk art and art processes.


Wesley: [00:00:00] Greetings everybody this is Wesley Pepper here. And you're tuned into my podcast Wesley Pepper’s art Lexica, which is brought to you by Spudcaster and baobulb. Yes, everybody, greetings to everybody. Um, To all the new listeners and returning listeners. Hi, hello to everybody. Thanks for tuning in this week, man. Uh, for those of you who listened to last week's episode.

[00:00:36] Thanks to Brian Jones and Jane Morris for coming through. I think they were fantastic. I had so much fun talking to them so much energy that they have, and I really believe, uh, in their business strategy. Uh, I think, um, Yeah. I mean, I think they do fantastic. They doing fantastic things over there in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

[00:00:56] So, um, yeah, they based in Wales but running out of Bulawayo. So if you, yeah, and just, if you know of them tune to last week’s podcast, if you haven't heard of them, tune in to last week’s podcast. But I think that was really great. Um, Well, that, that was really fantastic. And, um, just two more things before I introduce today's guests, um, the art give is still ongoing.

[00:01:18] So what you should do is like subscribe to our channel to this podcast channel. Um, And you can drop me just a line on Facebook saying that you did. I mean, obviously we will see if you did, uh, uh, well, anyway, you can, um, and we'll choose a random name. And for now the giveaway is only available to my listeners in South Africa, and that's because of

[00:01:44] courier costs because it's coming out of my pocket and that is, uh, yeah. Anyway, I'm sure you get it. Um, so that's ongoing so that it's available. Um, I'll actually tweet, um, or post a picture of the art work I want to give away on my social media pages so you can check it out there. I'll probably do it, um, yeah, very soon.

[00:02:04] So you can look forward to that and, um, I'll talk to you guys with all with regards to what's coming forth to future episodes and future additional features and stuff like that. We add into the show at the end of the interview. So stay tuned for that. So moving on then, uh, today's episode is going to be really exciting, I'm looking forward to it.

[00:02:24] So we're talking to a brother, um, Taye Uhuru, um, from Ohio in the USA. Uh, on social media he goes by the name Camp Cleveland. Um, say he's a, a historian and activist, uh, gynecologist, a student, hiphop artists, and this guy's quite an active traveler. Um, he said he's been to over 70 countries, which is actually, I don't know many people that has been to, uh, so many countries.

[00:02:51] So, uh, that's going to be exciting to talk to him to that. Um, I also had a listen to some of his music videos. Um, so that was really cool because the one video he shot at Mabonengneng and as you know, I used to stay just around the corner from there, uh, and Gary and Jola them, all the artists featured on there.

[00:03:07] So big shout out to Gary and Jola from African Icons um, and two, I'll give you guys another, um, yeah. Hmm. I actually just remembered something, but that's fine. Um, I'll make mention of all of that towards, at the end of the episode, um, with regards to everybody who I'm associated with and all of that. Um, so yeah, man, um, hope you guys will enjoy today's episode.

[00:03:28] Um, I'm certainly looking forward to it. Um, To unpacking his, um, uh, journey and all of that. So stay tuned for that. And I'll talk to you at the end of this. 

[00:03:43] Spudcaster: [00:03:43] baobulb.org is a podcasting platform and a medium for storytelling. This podcast is also available on all the major podcasting apps, including apple and Google podcasts, podcasts your life with baobulb.org

[00:04:00] Wesley: [00:04:00] Um, okay man. Taye Uhuru uh, from camp Cleveland, Ohio in the USA. Uh, thanks for coming through my brother. Um, how you been keeping? 

[00:04:13] Taye Uhuru: [00:04:13] uh all is well, thanks to you, king. I truly appreciate you for even allowing me to you know, come on your platform is definitely an honour. How you feeling now?

[00:04:22] Wesley: [00:04:22] Man? Me I'm good. Um, entering winter, uh, you know, as, as African people, we don't like the winter, so that's a bit, yeah.

[00:04:31] Other than that, it's all good, man. I'm being real busy. Actually. I've been working on some art. Um, I've got another group show coming up in a few weeks time, but the podcast we'll be hearing about that in the coming weeks. So, yeah, man, that covers me and my brother. Um, let's jump straight into it, man. So I'm you from Ohio and in the USA, you also a world traveler man, which is, which is really cool.

[00:04:52] Um, And, uh, you a historian. a musician. Um, yeah, man, they started with like, um, yeah. Uh, so you basically are you, so tell us a little bit about you, man. Just give us a little for my listeners so just give us a little bit of a background about, um, you know, stuff that's not in your, on your website, you know?

[00:05:14] Um, yeah. 

[00:05:16] Taye Uhuru: [00:05:16] Oh, okay. Yeah, I'm definitely, um, I'm a musician. I'm an MC I'm an author. I just wrote my first book. 

[00:05:23] It's called The Afro Set. Uh, I'm into 

[00:05:26] genealogy. I'm a historian. 

[00:05:29] And also I'm a world traveler. Um, 

[00:05:31] I visited almost 70 countries around the world. I've been to almost 20 countries in Africa. 

[00:05:38] Wesley: [00:05:38] That's like, that's like pretty cool, man.

[00:05:40] Like, to be honest with you, I know a lot of travelers, but 70 countries that's outstanding. Uh, just for the listeners. Can you tell us like, which of those, because there's 20 in Africa. Where else have you been, man? Um, Europe. Asia, where all over? 

[00:05:56] Taye Uhuru: [00:05:56] Yeah, definitely all over. 

[00:05:58] Um, and as far as 

[00:06:00] Africa I've been there, I've been to South Africa, Mozambique, uh, Botswana, Zimbabwe.

[00:06:07] Kenya Madagascar, Seychelles, Camaros, uh, Ethiopia, Egypt, Senegal, Cape Verde. Guinea-Bissau Morocco. I've been to south America, Brazil, uh, Dominican Republic, Mexico, uh, all over Europe, you know, Philippines, Taiwan. Thailand Japan. China. Yeah. 

[00:06:32] Wesley: [00:06:32] Wow. Wow. Wow. That's extensive. And that's extensive. So from what I can understand that you pan African is that correct.

[00:06:40] You, are you consider yourself as pan africanist? 

[00:06:43] Taye Uhuru: [00:06:43] Well, yeah, I guess it depends on your definition of it. So I think that. Uh, being black is a global thing. So I look at it as 

[00:06:51] black people in India, black people in Asia, as black people in Africa, black people in Mexico and Brazil and America. You know what I'm saying?

[00:07:00] Wesley: [00:07:00] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, because, because I'm looking at, because like the first thing that, um, I found a picture of buyer that jumps to me, man, is that historian part, because I'm a history buff myself. Um, you know, um, yeah man, I also, co-run a website we've been around for. A long, long, long, long time consciousness where we publish specifically, um, um, uh, stuff around African history and art, uh, essays, poetry, music, and everything around the, um, the African diaspora.

[00:07:31] And, um, tell me, man, is your, uh, is your history studies, um, uh, part of the reason why you travel such a lot or where did the traveling of where and why did the traveling bug really bite? You know, 

[00:07:45] Taye Uhuru: [00:07:45] Oh, okay. Um, it kind of mostly goes back to 

[00:07:48] my family's history. So I would say my, my great-grandfather. He was a follower of Marcus Garvey, you know, in the 1920s.

[00:07:57] Um, he joined the UNIA. I didn't, I never met my great-grandfather, but his daughter, my grandmother, she would tell them more about, you know, cause she was there. She went to some of the meeting. She was at the parade. She seen the raising of the red, black and green flag. And she told me about him, you know, like he felt like we were Africans and we should go back to Africa.

[00:08:18] And things like that. And then my grandmother's son, my uncle, he started his own black power organisation. It was called The Afro Set. So Afro at that time was short for Africa. So his organisation, it was at the forefront of re-introducing black Americans to African history, African culture, African language, African dance, and African fashion, African news, you know, and things like that.

[00:08:45] And, um, you know, my mom, she gave me black history books. When I was young, she used to draw, she drove the 

[00:08:51] Greyhound and she would take us to 

[00:08:52] different places around, around the country. You know, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati. Detroit, uh, you know, just different places around the way. So that's when I first started traveling and learning about black history.

[00:09:06] So I've always admired African people and African culture and African history ever since I was younger. Uh, 

[00:09:11] Wesley: [00:09:11] that's interesting. Interesting. So tell me, uh, through that, like inspired you to start traveling throughout the continent. Is that, um, is that, is that, is that, is that correct? 

[00:09:22] Taye Uhuru: [00:09:22] Well, yeah, but it took some time because like I say, I started when I was 

[00:09:24] young and then once I became an adult, you know, I continued to travel on my own.

[00:09:29] You know, I was still making music at this time. So I would go to different cities and different states, you know, we 

[00:09:34] will promote our music, perform, 

[00:09:36] pass out CDs and different things like that. And then once I had pretty much seen the majority of the states in America, I’ve been to like 45 states out of 50.

[00:09:46] So, you know, I wanted to see more and learn more. Again, I got my passport in 2010, and then that's when I started going to different countries in different parts of the world. 

[00:09:56] Wesley: [00:09:56] Well, so you said you traveled to about more than 70 countries since 2010. That's like the past 11 years. Taye Uhuru: Yeah, 11 years. Wesley: Yeah, shit, man.

[00:10:05] That's like, that's like a lot of mileage in 11 years. 

[00:10:08] Taye Uhuru: [00:10:08] Yeah. Yeah. I was moving at a high speed. 

[00:10:12] Wesley: [00:10:12] Yeah, fuck. Yeah, absolutely. Um, just for interest sake now that COVID has, uh, is like affected everything. Um, how has that affected your movement? Have you been traveling? Um, what is the, since March last year? Yeah.

[00:10:26] Taye Uhuru: [00:10:26] Yeah. I still been traveling. Definitely. 

[00:10:28] So in January of 2020, I came to Africa. I was in South Africa. So I was there during the 

[00:10:34] lockdown during COVID shut down and everything level four, level three, you know, waiting around and stuff. So I was in Africa for most of the time

[00:10:46] Wesley: [00:10:46] uh, where in South Africa were you at that time?

[00:10:49] Taye Uhuru: [00:10:49] I was in Johannesburg. I was living in Maboneng. I had an apartment in Maboneng. That's where I shot the music video at 

[00:10:55] Wesley: [00:10:55] my brother, I actually used to stay around the corner from there. Um, yeah, man, I lost my apartment since then. Uh, we actually give up the apartment in, uh, Taye Uhuru: when was it? Wesley: January February this year.

[00:11:10] Um, so since then I moved back to Kimberly in the Northern Cape, which is like 500 Ks outside of Johannesburg. But like, but like, that's my, that's my hood, man. Actually, I wanna, I wanna get to that because I've been looking at your looking and listening to your music. Um, and I sort of want to unpack, but like I sorta want to first, see, you know, the whole traveling thing and all that, um, sort of like added to your, uh, I would say your creative arsenal and like unpack that thing.

[00:11:36] But, but, um, so if you were saying that you've been to like 20 countries in, in, in Africa is pretty cool. Um, that that's pretty cool. So yeah. What I'm what I'm interested to know. So I know a lot of, uh, American guys coming to South Africa, um, obviously worked with quite a few as well. And it's interesting for me, how they interpret or how they see the continent, man?

[00:11:57] Um, and the expectations and all of that. But as somebody like with you, like, like coming to South Africa, um, I guess, like, what is, uh, what do you, what do you, what is the first thing you try to learn or, you know, experience from, uh, from, from, from, from, uh, from, uh, from, from a country? 

[00:12:16] Taye Uhuru: [00:12:16] Um, well, it depends on the country in terms of South Africa, you know, I had a little bit of, 

[00:12:22] um, understanding and knowledge of the history before I 

[00:12:25] actually came to visit.

[00:12:27] You know, from my first visit, I've been to South 

[00:12:29] Africa, at least five or six times. Like I said, I lived in Maboneng almost a year. Um, but I was reading different books. Like I read, uh, Nelson Mandela's book. I read, uh, Steve Biko book. I read, uh, Oh, my God. Uh, Robert Subukwe, you know, I was learning about apartheid and watching Shaka, Zulu, you know, different movies, cry freedom and stuff like that, and catch a fire and, you know, 

[00:12:54] just different things.

[00:12:55] So I kind of built up 

[00:12:57] a certain level of anticipation before I went there. So I knew what I wanted 

[00:13:01] to see. I tapped into some of the music, and then I had knew someone that was living 

[00:13:05] in South Africa. So I was communicating with them before I came out there, but when I, um, 

[00:13:12] when I first came to South Africa, this was maybe like 2013.

[00:13:16] So it wasn't a lot of constant positive content 

[00:13:20] about South Africa. You know, back then, like you said, it was about 

[00:13:25] these eight or nine years ago. So if you Googled South Africa, it would be something 

[00:13:29] negative rape murder, a 

[00:13:32] poverty. 

[00:13:33] But you know, when I got to Cape town, that was the first place I went. I seen 

[00:13:38] malls.

[00:13:39] I seen beautiful women, beautiful beaches. Cars, Benzes, Bentleys, BMWs. You know, I've just seen so many my brother.

[00:13:46] Wesley: [00:13:46] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Like I get you. I get you like that also thing. Um, one thing, I've one thing I've picked up. Like I know a lot of scholars, um, actually I know some from Chicago was pretty close friends of mine and, uh, they've actually been doing a project in the Northern KZN, with the rural women.

[00:14:07] So we get a, um, it's also. For me as a, for me as, as an artist, because I'm a visual artist, like that's my core. So, so, so I interpret things. Yeah. Visually and I'm also Pan-Africanist as well. So, um, When I find out when I see a lot of, um, um, yeah, for me, it's always interesting. Are the other Americans like, like back, because as you say, like if you see all this fucking rape and all this type of shit.

[00:14:35] Yeah. Well, um, yeah, yeah. That's how the, uh, that's the stuff has been as bad as, you know, if you scratch deeper, there's a lot. Yeah. Um, um, there's a, there's, there's a lot of culture, there’s a lot of history. Um, is that a context as thing which, which gives out which, which gives our music and our artistic expression such a, I guess, such a texture and vibe energy and all of that.

[00:14:56] So, um, you know, reading up a few, a few, you mentioned movies like cry, freedom, um, um, That actually quite a, that's actually quite something interesting. Um, so, uh, how, or what parts of the Africa, what part of, um, if you, if I must make it specific about Joburg, like really struck with you, man, you know, what was the, um, and I'm sort of trying to build up to your music because I was listening to your lyrics, um, as well, but yeah.

[00:15:24] What part of Joburg, and then, South Africa really, you know, grabbed you. 

[00:15:30] Taye Uhuru: [00:15:30] Man. It's hard to say because all of South Africa has been amazing, you know, from my experience. Well, yeah, I, I really was feeling Joburg. I mean, I guess, cause you know, Joburg got the money. It seems like, you know, 

[00:15:42] looking from the outside.

[00:15:43] So Maboneng was just like the ultimate place 

[00:15:46] to be, you know, as photographers, as dancers, as poets, 

[00:15:51] drummers, as singers, as painters s producers. And like even during a lockdown, you know, it was three or four different music studios in my building. It was producers 

[00:16:00] and rappers that I could just go next door or go upstairs.

[00:16:04] So, you know, I never seen a place like Maboneng. So, so maybe that may have been the most, you know, uh, remarkable place for me. 

[00:16:14] Wesley: [00:16:14] So you were staying at main street life in . Um, we, uh, in that hotel, were you staying there? Taye Uhuru: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, Wesley: yeah, fuck. Um, I know that place pretty well. Um, I used to stay down, um, Betty Street, so it will be, um, just on the corner by Burtrand by that French restaurant.

[00:16:36] Um, if you're looking left, um, I stayed just one, just two blocks from the, um, but yeah, like, um, after the, um, after, because as a visual artist, um, Yeah. I mean, once everything got shut down. Yeah, man, it really it's out long story we had to give up the apartment. But anyway, um, I'm still based, um, you know, my stuff's in storage that side and all of that.

[00:16:59] Um, so yeah. So if you were, you were there through our thought lockdown, right? Uh, Geewhizz how was that for you, because, because over here, which means that you experienced, uh, alcohol and tobacco prohibition, uh, and, uh, you know, the politics around movement. Cause we couldn't go anywhere and it was really odd.

[00:17:19] Cool man. And, um, I know the inner city, there's a lot of people there there's a lot of movement. Uh, uh, I don't know, like what, uh, because it was 21 days and the government moved it out to a few more days. What did you do to keep yourself busy? 

[00:17:35] Taye Uhuru: [00:17:35] Well, I mean, you know, I was shocked like everybody else, so we didn't 

[00:17:38] know what was next, but, you know, as far as being locked down somewhere, I couldn't have picked a more, better place to be.

[00:17:44] Like I said, cause I was still 

[00:17:46] surrounded by musicians. I was still able to shoot a music video, you know, was photographers 

[00:17:50] still living, you know, in my apartment building. So I was pretty cool for the most part. As far as, uh, being artistic and creative, I was still able to write songs. I was still able to record songs and shooting music videos.

[00:18:03] Um, When it first, first 

[00:18:05] locked down, like when we was 

[00:18:06] at the highest level, you know, I just went back and forth to the...

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Wesley Pepper's Art Lexica
This is a show where we talk art and art processes. It's typically an interview format, where we talk to different artists about their journey.

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Candice Nolan

I'm an indie podcast producer from Johannesburg, South Africa