The Tanzanian President, John Magufuli, has ordered the release of a renowned rapper who was arrested by the police for reportedly critcising the Tanzanian Government in his song.
The rapper, Emmanuel Elibariki, who bears the stage name, “Nay wa Mitego,” was arrested on March 27, 2017, following the release of his satirical song “Wapo” the previous week.
Elibariki, who is known for his repertoire of political songs, announced his arrest on his Instagram page shortly after his arrest.
“It is true that I have been arrested. I am currently being taken away to the police station in Mvomero. I love you all Tanzanians,” the message read.
According to the commander of police of the area, the rapper reportedly used lyrics discrediting President John Magufuli’s government..
“Who do you think you are now? That you don’t want to be advised? That you don’t want to be criticised?” the lyrics read.
Prior to his arrest, the National Arts Council of Tanzania (BASATA) barred the song from being played on air.
However, President Magufuli ordered the immediate release of the rapper on the same day, and instructed that his song continues to be played on all radio and television stations in the country.
The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) condemns the arrest of the rapper by the police as well as the censoring of his song by the National Arts Council. Freedom of expression is enshrined in the Tanzanian Constitution and must therefore be protected.
We welcome the President’s decision to release the rapper and to lift the ban on his song. AFEX recognises this as a step towards the enjoyment of freedom of expression rights in the country. We call on President Magufuli, to extend the same good will to other victims of freedom of expression violations in Tanzania.