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The lyrics that got Tanzanian rapper Nay wa Mitego detained

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Nay wa Mitego

Nay wa Mitego

Tanzanian rapper Emmanuel Elbariki, better known as Nay wa Mitego, was recently thrown in jail for releasing a song that was highly critical of Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli.

He was detained this past Sunday and released on Monday, but not before being advised to “improve the song by adding those guilty of tax fraud and drug users,” by Tanzania’s recently appointed Information Minister, Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe.

Furthermore, a ban on his song, titled Wapo, was lifted after his release. The official ban didn’t stop the song from being wildly distributed via social media since it leaked last week.

“This song, the president likes it very much,” claimed the minister.


The song’s title is taken from its chorus, where wapo is the response to questions being thrown at the audience. Sung in Kiswahili, the song laments the current state of affairs in the nation, with each verse, and the chorus, containing at least one jab clearly aimed at President Magufuli’s government.

The first verse includes these lines:

Hivi uhuru wa kuongea kwenye hii nchi bado upo?/ Usije kuongea vitu kesho ukajikuta sentro.

Translated: Do we still have the freedom of speech in this country? / You may speak up and find yourself locked up in sentro [Central Police Station].

His recent detention speaks volumes about the state of freedom of speech in Tanzania.

The second verse expresses concern about the state of media freedom, with verses stating:

Hakuna uhuru wa habari, wala taarifa ya habari [There’s no media freedom, there’s no news].

Wanaipindisha pindisha tu kuiogopa serikali [they twist the news in fear of the government].

This verse also takes aim at leaders who seem intent on publicity instead of working, in addition to airing concern about leaders who’ve forged their certificates.

That is aimed directly at the Dar-es-Salaam Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, a close ally of President Magufuli who has been involved in a very public spat with a local bishop. The bishop has claimed that Paul Makonda uses forged academic certificates and is actually called Albert Bashite, born in a place called Koromije. These details are pertinent because they are mentioned in the third verse.

This final verse also mentions the previous week’s raid on a media house, orchestrated by Paul Makonda, and advises the president to get rid of him as one would a boil.

Aiming directly at the president, the third verse notes that:

Kiongozi mwenye busara anapokea ushauri [a wise leader receives advise]

haweki mbele kiburi [he doesn’t put pride before everything else]

but then criticizes the president by declaring:

Wewe mtu gani sasa [what kind of person are you?]

Hutaki kushauriwa, hutaki kukosolewa [You don’t want to be advised, you don’t want to be corrected]

Unajiona ndugu yake na Yesu [You fancy yourself Jesus’ brother]

Naona kichaa kapewa rungu [I see a madman has been given power]

To top up the jabs at the current president, one line in the chorus mentions those who miss the presidency of Jakaya Kikwete, Pres. Magufuli’s predecessor.