It’s a matter of time: Diamond speaks on BASATA frustrations

Diamond perfoming during Wasafi Festival in Nairabi Photo:Courtesy

On November 12, 2018, Tanzania’s National Arts Council, Baraza la Sanaa ya Taifa (Basata), banned Mwanza, a new track by Rayvanny featuring his stable-mate Diamond Platnumz.

The song was only one-day old when it was banned for “having graphic content”, making it unsuitable for public consumption. By the time it was banned, the song had garnered close to a million views.

The letter issued by Basata said the song should be removed from YouTube immediately and restricted any media houses in Tanzania from broadcasting, distributing or using the song in all areas of public consumption.

The ban came at a time when Wasafi Limited was planning their end-of-year Wasafi Festival Tour in Tanzania and Kenya.

ALSO READ: Diamond, Rayvanny make U-turn, apologize to BASATA

During the first half of their tour, they didn’t perform the song until their fifth and last show in Mwanza, Tanzania.

“It was our fault to be banned. There was no way you can compare this with the Bobbi Wine situation at all. We didn’t intend to perform, but you know sometimes you get carried away on stage and that’s what led to that,” said Diamond.

Their rebellious performance resulted in another ban on performing in Tanzania and anywhere else, for that matter. 

“As good citizens, we apologised. We sent out a letter apologising and stating that we had other shows that had already been paid for and they lifted the ban on travelling and performing. We also offered a public apology. When we go back home, we would have to ensure that we do better by the laws governing the arts,” he added.

Diamond and his Wasafi crew have publicly addressed the press twice in the last two weeks ahead of their Kenyan tour during which they have danced around the question, giving very calculated and “obedient” answers to questions pertaining to the ban. Even when from the outside it looks like a target at the stable and its business.

Diamond perfoming in Nairobi Photo:Courtesy

In defence, Diamond, the WCB Wasafi CEO, said: “We are not the only ones (artistes) being targeted in Tanzania. It is just that we have more influence.” As of December 18, 2018, Diamond and Rayvanny were banned from performing within and outside of Tanzania.

ALSO READ: Tanzania bans Rayvanny ft. Diamond's song "Mwanza" for promoting homosexuality

However, the song has garnered much more traction within the period it has been scrutinised.

“The song is the most requested in every country and every show we perform at. If we are allowed, we can perform, if we are not allowed, we will not perform. It’s that simple. People love the song. Were it not banned, it probably could have been one of the best songs of 2018,“ he said.

The ban was allegedly triggered by other factors which caused a domino effect. These speculated factors could include when Diamond and his team missing a flight out of Mwanza for the show.

An angry Diamond took to social media to vent and condemn the airline and Magufuli’s rule. President Magufuli has had an uneasy relationship with artistes, in stark contrast to his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete.

There is a feeling that Tanzanian authorities are stifling the arts scene. “That is the thought at the back of your mind when composing a song now. We have to think if it is within the laws and whether it will upset the powers. Kwenye ukuta, kuna njia ya kutokea. Ndio maana si jambo kubwa.

“It’s the same as a parent restricting you over and over again. They will finally back down. It is up to us to present ourselves to the government to allow us to do things that are within the law. Also, not every song is written for the younger audience,” said Diamond.

Banning songs is not new in Africa. Tanzanian artiste, Haji Nurah, an old hand in the industry, feels these regulations and bans are necessary.

“Freedom without limitation can cause chaos. People have become “too free” because of social media. This has given people the power to do other things that could influence even five-year-old kids without being governed,” said Nurah.

“Basata are doing a decent job watching what the younger generation is consuming, although they also have to know their limits as an organisation,” he said.

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