Mos Def on Recent Arrest: ‘There Are Political Motivations Behind Why I’m Being Targeted in South Africa’

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Rapper Yasiin Bey, formerly Mos Def, poses as he arrives for the screening of the film Amy at the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 16, 2015. 

Kanye West lent his eponymous website to his good friend Yasiin Bey (commonly known as Mos Def) Tuesday night so that the New York rapper and actor could explain what’s going on in South Africa and what led to Bey’s reported arrest last week for producing an unlawful passport. 

In a recording, Bey started off by kicking a freestyle about his innocence and how he’s leaving South Africa, which he refers to as “S.A.” Bey spits:

No more parties in S.A. I don't need to stay […]
I’ll leave and I’ll stay away. I committed no crime […]
Why they raided my place? Why I don’t feel safe? 

He thanked Kanye for “being a real friend” and then spoke candidly about his ordeal. 

“At this present time, I am currently in Capetown, South Africa. I’m being prevented from leaving unjustly, unlawfully and without any logical reason. They’re saying that they want to deport my family,” Bey said.


He explained that much of what is being reported about him is untrue, since the world passport he used is lawful and a document that he had used before in South Africa: “They’re making false claims against me, saying that my travel document is fictitious, which it is not,” Bey argued. “Anyone can do research about the world passport.

“It is not a fictitious document. […] The world passport has been accepted here on numerous occasions in South Africa—in Capetown and Johannesburg,” Bey added.


He went on to describe his current status and why he believes that a lot of what is going on stems from political causes: “I’m under unnecessary state supervision and scrutiny. I have reason to believe and suspect that there are political motivations behind the way I’m being treated.

“I haven’t broken any law and I’m being treated like a criminal,” Bey continued. “I just want to go home. I don’t live in America. The state of South Africa is interfering with my ability to move and to fulfill my professional obligations unnecessarily.”


Bey went on to announce his retirement from the music and film industry after his next album comes out: “I’m retiring from the musical recording industry as it is currently assembled today, and also Hollywood effective immediately. I will be releasing my final album this year.”

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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