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Culture

Music Against Racism

Brothers Keepers are taking a firm stand against right-wing violence and making a statement: having a German passport, but not a stereotypical German appearance.

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Adé is the initiator of Brothers Keepers.

Over 100 people have been killed by right-wing extremists since Germany's reunification in 1990. Victims have been pushed out of subways, chased into window panes or simply beaten to death.

The murder of the Mozambican Alberto Adriano by three skinheads in eastern Germany in the summer of 2000 was the last straw for a group of Afro-German musicians. They came together and founded the project "Brothers Keepers".

Their first single "Adriano (The Final Warning)" unexpectedly became a huge hit, reaching the fourth spot in the German charts. In the song, the 14 musicians warn skinheads in quite an aggressive tone that they are not going to take right-wing violence lying down.

Any of them could have been Alberto Adriano, says Brothers Keepers' one-named founder, Adé. "We are not going to run away, because our lives are focused here in Germany."

But Brothers Keepers have gone beyond the scope of Germany. Their new album "Lightkultur" is a cooperation with other musicians of African descent from all over the world, including such famous names as Roots Manuva, Ziggy Marley and Bunny Wailer. Here, the artists portray the various aspects of their daily experiences with racism and discrimination.

Joined by sisters

The Brothers Keepers project has since been joined by its female form: Sisters Keepers. The eight women brought out their single "Love and Understanding" in December 2001.

Meli von Sisters Keepers

Meli von Sisters Keepers

Lyrically and musically, Sisters Keepers have chosen a different path than their brothers. But they still make their position clear on what it means to have dark skin and a German passport.

They say they have not given up hope that the situation will change in Germany. They call on their listeners' understanding, but also on the power of love: "Listen to your heart and rearrange," they sing.

For a good cause

Brothers Keepers is not just about a message. It also has a pragmatic purpose. All the proceeds from the record sales go into a foundation they have created. It enables victims of right-wing violence to seek medical, psychological and legal help.

The foundation also supports initiatives and organizations fighting right-wing extremism, in particular in eastern Germany. Brothers Keepers say only on-the-spot actions offer the possibility of marginalizing Neonazis, perpetrators of right-wing violence and racism.

Their next action is scheduled for April, when representatives from both Brothers and Sisters Keepers will visit schools throughout eastern Germany, which has the highest rate of right-wing extremism. The artists will discuss racism and violence with students and explain the motivation behind their project.

The Brothers Keepers' foundation also financially supports the legal case of an Ethiopian refugee who was attacked by two skinheads and their fighting dog on a train near Halle in eastern Germany at the end of January.

"The victim is completely traumatized and needs extensive psychological treatment," says the foundation's Dirk Seifert. He told DW-WORLD that such therapy is not available in the Halle region. "We are now trying to have him transferred to a center in the west, for humanitarian purposes."

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