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Does Basata’s move muffle or unfold artists’ creativity?

Sunday May 09 2021
Basata pic
By Lilian Ndilwa

The National Arts Council (Basata: ‘Baraza la Sanaa Tanzania’) caused a frenzy in social media after Emmanuel Elibariki - whose stage name s ‘Nay Wa Mitego’ - announced that his song ‘Mama’ which was to be released on Monday, May 3, 2021 was held back by the Basata from being released on streaming platforms.

This action by Basata caused confusion in the local entertainment industry with its decision to approve artists’ works before they are released for public consumption.

A stir arose after Emmanuel Elibariki/Nay Wa Mitego made an announcement that his song ‘Mama’ that was meant to be released on Monday, May 3, 2021 was restricted by the authority to be released on streaming platforms until it was modified.

While music stakeholders and artists criticized Basata questionable move, the music bar says it is not a new move and such act is in accordance with the law and the aim was to provide grades of relevant songs.

On May 2, 2021 the Bongo Flava Rapper Nay Wa Mitego announced on his social media handles that he would release a song dubbed ‘Mama’ (Mother) the next day. His fans in the comment sections were excited for the new hit as they flattered him with ‘This song will be a banger’, ‘You never miss’, kind of compliments.

These reactions changed expeditiously after Nay Wa Mitego announced on May 3, that his song was no longer going to be released after it got restricted by Basata when they reviewed it.

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Nay Wa Mitego’s statement about Basata’s act created a conversation amongst music icons, lovers and stakeholders who gave in their opinions about the restriction; most of whom questioned Basata’s questionable move to ban even a respectfully titled song - ‘Mama’.

On his interview with a local radio station Nay Wa Mitego revealed that he was first told by Basata that his song is provocative, that the people mentioned in the song ‘Mama’ such as ‘Shangazi’ (aunt) implies that his song is political.

“I sometimes think of quitting doing music because of these kinds of struggles, this system will make some of the artists to not do their work. You cannot edit songs penned down by artists in the name of review, when that happens, the song automatically is disclaimed by artists,” he explained.

Mwana FA, One of the Hip Hop icons and currently a member of parliament wrote on his Instagram account “Personally, I am against the new Basata directive and I will not support it. I do not think that this principle is of any help or should be used. It neither serves any purpose nor will it help artists in any way. It has to either be develop or banned. We should find other censorship strategies without limiting artists’ creativity.”

Mwana FA further wrote that he does not support cursive songs; he suggested to the authority that it should not impose the rule on the artists with an ‘excuse’ to better the industry.

He, however, suggested that Basata and Cosota can improve the music industry by referring to article number 7 of 1999 whereas Cosota gives license for public artistic concerts display whilst collecting royalties when the works of arts are being performed in the public and splitting them between the artists.

“These are the kind of rules that are beneficial to the artists, yet the authorities have been playing blindfolded to them for years. Songs release should not be compared to requesting Visa or passport. You are killing creativity. It’s always these kinds of issues that make music stake holders question if Basata has any other roles than banning songs.

“I recall the discussion of the like during the days I served as a secretary of the board of Basata, I will continue being against this rule just like I did back in the days,” wrote Mwana FA.

Experts questioned the ability of Basata to release about 5000 to 7000 songs on a daily basis, songs for children and adults sung by upcoming and already known artists from all over the country.

Ambene Yessaya, one of Bongo Flava legendary hip hop artist says “Does Basata only review songs made In Tanzania and permit foreign songs to be given airtime? Releasing songs becomes like requesting a visa for North Korea, it’s not right as there are lots of alternative strategies that can be used.”

“Basata’s regulations won’t touch Nicki Minaj or even Fally Ipupa. That means any artist from Kenya or the US can freely release songs in the country without Basata’s approval,” commented Nicklass, music video director

Rapper Nikki wa Pili being one of the people directly affected by the ‘Basata rule’ took it to his twitter page and wrote “You are not allowed to do any art work without permission, nor to take it to market or to consumers. Any art work without inspection ... “any work of art” is not a game.

R n B Singer, Z- Anto was also not happy with the new Basata regulations.

He wrote on his Instagram account “When you review an already made song and make the singer to get back to the studio, it costs the artist financial wise to start all over. Artists will start focusing on their songs being reviewed instead of improving competition. Music is a career; it should be treated as such.”