Yasiin Bey, known better by his former stage name, Mos Def, announced his retirement from Hollywood and the music business five days after being arrested in South Africa for allegedly attempting to travel with a fake passport, BusinessInsider reported.
Bey — real name: Dante Terrel Smith — was detained at the Cape Town airport for immigration violations after presenting something called a world passport — a document first introduced by Garry Davis, a resident of South Burlington, Vermont, U.S., in the 1950s, BurlingtonFreePress reported.
A Cape Town resident, Bey told an audience at Zula Bar on Long Street, Cape Town, that “Africa is the place to be but it is Africans who do not realize that.”
Davis believed refugees and people without a country should have access to identification so they could travel across national boundaries.
In a recorded message on Kanye West’s website, Bey did a freestyle rap, “No More Parties in S.A.,” inspired by West and Kendrick Lamar’s “No More Parties in L.A.”
In his message, Bey, 42, said he is “being prevented from leaving, unjustly, unlawfully, and without any logical reason.”
He said the world passport he was traveling with is valid and that the South African government is wrongly accusing him of using fake documents.
Bey called for people to boycott South Africa, SkyNews reported.
“Anyone can do the research about the ‘world passport’; it’s not a fictitious document,” he said. “It is not meant to deceive or derive unlawful benefit from any nation state, at all.”
Bey’s passport was not created by a government agency but by Davis, who died two years ago at age 91, leaving behind an enduring legacy, according to the BurlingtonFreePress.
That legacy may never have received as much publicity as it’s getting from Bey, an internationally renowned rapper and resident of Brooklyn, New York. His career has included songwriting, recording for various labels, performing solo and with others, and an acting stint on the Showtime series “Dexter.”
Davis believed the world passport was supported by the 30 articles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One article in particular summed it all up for him, BurlingtonFreePress reported: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Bey said the South African government is preventing him from fullfilling his “professional obligations unnecessarily.”
He said he’s “retiring from the music recording industry as it is currently assembled today, and also from Hollywood, effective immediately,” though he said that decision was not directly related to his detainment in South Africa. He said he will release a final album this year, BusinessInsider reported.
South African airport officials made a big mistake not recognizing Bey’s world passport, David Gallup, an attorney who heads the World Service Authority, issuers of the world passport.
“We issued him one of our passports a month or so ago,” Gallup said. “South Africa has recognized world passports many times previously,” Gallup said. “I’ve been in touch with (Bey’s) New York lawyer.”
Robin Lloyd, a Burlington peace activist and longtime friend of the late Davis, said, “It’s wonderful to know that Garry’s vision of a world without borders lives on.”
Lloyd offered this advice to world citizens, Mos Def and anyone who applied for a world passport: “You have to use this passport ‘to claim your human rights.’”
Bey was arrested released on $300 bail, according to SkyNews. He is due to appear in court on March 8.
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs said Bey entered the country with a legitimate U.S. passport in November and had a visitor’s visa valid until February.
Immigration officers said his wife and minor child had overstayed their visit to South Africa.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and intelligence leaker Edward Snowden also have world passports that are not officially recognized, SkyNews reported.
Bey, who lives in Cape Town, entered South Africa 10 times using a U.S. passport between 2013 and last week, when he tried to leave for Ethiopia on a world passport, immigration officials said.
Each time, he was granted a 90-day tourist visa.
“I’ve committed no crime. Why’s the state wasting my time … Where I live is my choice … I just wanna go where I’m wanted … A country called Earth, everywhere,” he said on Kanye West’s website.
He added: “Anyone can do the research about the world passport. It is not a fictitious document. It has been accepted here on many occasions.”