DIE URBANE — EUROPE’S 1ST HIP HOP POLITICAL PARTY @(J.B)
“Our goal to connect the struggle of people in the African continent with black people in the diaspora”– Raphael Hilbrand
Berlin, Germany. In early 2017 a group of activists met in Berlin with an aim to form a party that represented a unique aspect of the thinking and way of life for the urban youth — the HIP-HOP Culture. Three months later they successfully registered a rare and controversial political party — Die Urbane, Germany’s, Hip, and Europe’s 1st HIP-HOP Political Party.
Raphael Hillebrand — a former member of 5 Amox and b-boy dance group, a dancer, influential choreographer, and a passionate member of the Hip-Hop community is the founder of the party. For a man born in Hong Kong and raised in Berlin, his multicultural experience relates to his vision embedded in both his love for Hip-Hop and his belief that his creativity fits in the political space in Germany.
In his interview with BBC journalist Collen Haggentry, Raphael delved into how Die Urbane’s identity fits into the political space in Germany; “We think of the beginning of HIP-HOP in the 70S … we had marginalized people in New York, who did something out of nothing ….a voice for the voiceless …”. A voice Raphael believes if harnessed will enable the party to find space in Germany’s crowded and predetermined political atmosphere and achieve substantive equality for black people who majorly associate with the vision of the party.
I met Raphael in one of the U-bahn’s — a rapid transit railway in Berlin. He was holding a huge signpost that spoke out against racism — from the magnitude of the stares he received, he clearly seemed to be out of place. Marveled by his courage, I struck a conversation and we delved right into it all — from the rallying call for better leadership in Africa by courageous Africans and the subtle yet cunning ways racism continued to shape the lives of black people in Europe.
“If you don’t speak for yourself nobody else will’, he insisted, which would lead us to bond over what we believed was what the world might be or should be. He had a fire in him that was remarkable — a strong belief that it was only the crazy ones who eventually disrupt a system like that of institutionalized racism.
Raphael’s words struck a nerve and reminded me of an encounter I had with a prolific activist and one of the founders of the Ukweli Party in Kenya– Boniface Mwangi. Boniface lived by Raphael’s words, and constantly made the hard choice of speaking truth to government, despite being arrested, threatened, maligned and prosecuted. He spoke on what has and continues to ails not just Kenya but also Africa — deep-rooted diseases like corruption, and neo-Colonialism. He is fearless when others consider it dangerous to stand up and in a country where corruption is the norm he found creative bold ways to get his message across-just like Raphael, he has let his creativity chat the path towards change.
Die Urbane’s Ultimate goal is connecting the struggle of the people like Boniface in the African continent with that of black people like Raphael in Europe. For Europe’s 1st Hip- Hop party this would mean confronting the lasting impact of colonization, racism and inequality — a huge task for any person, group or party. However if creative enough, bold enough, and successful in connecting with Africans who envision something new for Africa, they will move a step closer towards having substantial and meaningful progress.