Popular Tanzanian rapper Nay wa Mitego was on Sunday arrested for releasing a song deemed to be criticizing and insulting President Magufuli.
The song, Wapo, emerged last week and was widely shared on social media, especially on Whatsapp. It has one line which asks: “Is there still freedom of expression in the country?” Other lyrics in the song refer to a doctor who can’t tolerate criticism.
The rapper whose real name is Emmanuel Elibariki was arrested at a hotel in Morogoro, some 190 kilometers from Dar Es Salaam for insulting President Magufuli.
“It is true I am under arrest. Right now I am being taken to the police station,” the rapper whose real name is Emmanuel Elibariki wrote on his Instagram account.
Police also confirmed the arrest to local media, saying the rapper would be ”questioned for releasing a song with words that malign the government”.
Nay wa Mitego (Nay true boy when translated from Swahili) is known for his scathing lyrics attacking not only the government but even his fellow artists. His videos garner hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
Nay wa Mitego further rapped in the song in Swahili saying: “Who are you now? Don’t you want to listen to advice? Don’t you want criticism?”
He was addressing someone he calls “a doctor specializing in lancing boils”. The “lancing boils” phrase has been used repeatedly by President Magufuli when referring to people he deems to be obstructive.
The rapper’s arrest comes a few days after President John Magufuli warned the media to exercise their freedom cautiously.
“Media owners, let me tell you: ‘Be careful. Watch it. If you think you have that kind of freedom – not to that extent,'” said the Tanzanian leader.
President John Magufuli, nicknamed “Tingatinga” which means “bulldozer” has been seen to be increasingly authoritarian since coming to power in 2015.
Since his election, Magufuli has shut down newspapers, banned opposition rallies, switched off live broadcasts of parliamentary sessions and used a draconian “cybercrimes” law to jail critics.
His antics as a no-nonsense, corruption-busting man of the people made him popular but have also seen him be criticized for impulse acting with disregard of due process.