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Bigger picture in Magufuli ban on ‘offending’ music

There is no doubt Tanzanian President John Magufuli is a great leader. It may not look like it right now amid the controversy, but make no mistake; Magufuli is on the right side of Africa’s evolving modern history.

Since the unlikely President came into power in 2015 after serving 10 years as a parliamentarian, Magufuli has been a gadfly to those he would call their bluff. Some Kenyan businessmen have tasted his wrath for not following laid down import regulations.

Remember the fate of day-old chicks? Ironically, Magufuli’s critics are getting annoyed with the same things that had endeared him to the majority of Tanzanians. Indeed, the former teacher has zero-tolerance for corruption, wastage of public resources, ineptness, political correctness, judicial mischief or self-seeking busybodies in government.

A true leader must lead from the front. One thing I like about Magufuli is that he does not seek cheap popularity through empty public relations rhetoric and stunts.

Like a conscientious father, he dispenses justice strictly, equally and without fear or favour, to all in his household! Magufuli is in good company of a growing breed of leaders around the world who have decided it is time to “drain the swamp” from years of misgovernance.

I am thinking of the straight shooting, no-holds-barred, take no prisoners American President Donald Trump, who does not shy away from going against the grain in an attempt to re-energise the weakening superpower.

Recently, Trump shocked all and sundry by supporting gun control in the US. Then there is the 16th President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who has effectively tackled his country’s spiralling drug-related crime rate by painfully treating the disease, rather than wasting time assuaging its symptoms.

His motto seems to be, those who live by the gun will (nay, should) die by the gun. Rwanda President Paul Kagame is always a favourite example of effective leadership in Africa. In Kenya, Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i is an ideal candidate for this new club. Unfortunately, we may never have such calibre at the top.

The no-nonsense Magufuli was it at it again last week after his government banned 13 local songs for contravening the nation’s norms and values. The songs were pulled out from media airplay by the Communications Regulatory Authority for contravening the code of conduct as contained in the Broadcasting Services (Content) Regulations of 2005.

Expectedly, Magufuli’s critics were all over, accusing him of being dictatorial and old-fashioned. This is usually a very convenient way of escapism for those avoiding an inconvenient truth. However, there are two sides to this ban. If taken literally, Magufuli erred by not taking into consideration the role of art in contemporary African society.

The new generation is playing by a different set of rules. Due to pervasive media influence, the youth have seen it all, and they are not happy with the example the elders have set. They are rebelling against the chasm in the status quo, which seems to be the creation of a few powerful individuals and institutions at the expense of the masses.

Through music, the youth express and vent frustrations with the new oppressive new world order. Largely, the music is simply innocent fun. But then, we know the power of the media to influence both positively and negatively. But on the other hand, Magufuli is sending a message against continuing destruction of African values.

To regain a stable social order, there should be no place for obscenity and other vain licentiousness in the name of art in African media. Let those who would like to enjoy the deviousness do so in their privacy.

African leaders must take and follow Magufuli’s cue towards Africa’s renaissance. They should have limits in the adoption of foreign values and ideologies to protect Africa’s unique identity and invaluable cultural heritage. The writer is the Executive Director, Centre for Climate Change Awareness. [email protected]

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