‘No more parties in SA’ … Yasiin Bey Photograph: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images
Yasiin Bey, who was detained last week for attempting to leave South Africa with an unrecognised passport, has announced that his retirement from the music and film industries is “effective immediately” after the release of his final album later this year.
The freestyle, which he sent to Kanye West and was posted on West’s site, sees Bey protesting about his treatment in South Africa and demanding “No more parties in SA”. He protests against his predicament, saying: “Why these police up in my face? Why they raiding my place? Why I don’t feel safe? This is not an expression of fear. This is just to make things clear. My intentions are pure in coming here. And that’s for everything I love or hold dear. Homies in the building. So is my wife and my children. I committed no crime. Why is the state wasting my time?”
Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, moved to South Africa in 2013 on a visitor’s permit, which he overstayed. When he tried to leave the country via Cape Town last week, using a “world passport”, he was stopped. “People in the state have taken punitive action against me, unnecessarily,” he said, suggesting “political motivations” were behind his trouble. “I don’t live in America and I have a right to domicile wherever I please. Without fear, or without interference.”
Bey’s troubles stem from the combination an expired tourist visa, and his attempt to leave the country using a “world passport”, though he and his representative maintain such documents have been used by others to leave South Africa in the past.
The world passport was invented by an American man, Garry Davis, in the 1950s. In 1954, Davis set up the World Service Authority (WSA) to promote the idea of “world citizenship” – he had renounced his US citizenship in 1948 – and the world passport was intended to help stateless people and refugees. Davis himself used one, and was repeatedly arrested for doing so.
Bey was issued with a world passport a month ago, the WSA’s current head, David Gallup, told the Burlington Free Press, a paper based in Garry Davis’s hometown. “Like Garry, Yasiin Bey sees himself as a citizen of the world,” Gallip said. “His website is A Country Called Earth. But the airport officials made a big mistake. South Africa has recognised world passports many times previously. I’ve been in touch with his New York lawyer. The situation is still fluid.”
The WSA claims six countries – Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Mauritania, Tanzania, Togo and Zambia – recognise world passports, and that it has been accepted on a case-by-case basis in 150 countries. Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are among current holders.