Tag Archives: freedom of expression

Song Of The Day: Kaizari By Vitali Maembe

Tanzanian musician Vitali Maembe is no stranger to the hard hand of authorities. Whenever he performs live chances are the police will show up to stop the concert. This is the fear his words and music install in those in power.

For many years now, Maembe has been singing about social issues in his home country and about the failures of his government. This often gets him in trouble. Recently Maembe was detained and then released on bail for allegedly ‘insulting the government‘ in his new song ‘Kaizari’.

According to this article the “Tanzanian authorities are known to censor political opinions that oppose the government, whether journalistic or in the arts. The country’s new Cyber Crimes Act actively represses freedom of expression, opposition and dissent.”

In a recent interview Maembe said: “First, you cannot run away from politics…when I sing about youths businesses failing or the dispensary having no medicine or that road being horrible, I am not talking politics, and please bear in mind that our national anthem says ‘Wabariki viongozi wetu’.

How can we bless our leaders if we don’t tell them the truth?”


Latin Protest Anthem Nominated For A Grammy While Cuba Cracks Down On Dissidents

Patria o muerte (translated homeland or death) is a saying that was born in communist, revolutionary times in Cuba. For over six decades, the authoritarian regime on this Caribbean island has held a firm hand over its citizens which has resulted in many people looking to other countries for a more positive life or being exiled for their words or actions.

See also: Freemuse X Shouts Artist’s Voice: Cuban Visual Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara

Many artists have faced severe oppression by the regime in recent years but that does not stop them from using their voices and talents to try to bring attention to the tyranny their people face on a daily basis.

Since its release in February, the rap song Patria y Vida, has accumulated over 9 million views on YouTube and become somewhat of an anthem for people in Cuba and all over Latin America. The rap hit was recorded in Miami (the home to an enormous exiled Cuban population), by a group of artists, some of whom are currently living in exile.

The song title is a more positive take on the before mention saying and part of its lyrics read: “We are artists, we are sensitivity/The true story, not the wrong one/We are the dignity of a whole people trampled on/At gunpoint and with words that are still nothing”.

See also: Rapper Maykel Osorbo and Visual Artist Luis Manuel Otéro Arbitrarily Detained In Cuba

The song has helped motivate the Cuban people to stand up and raise their voices for a more equal and just society. In an unprecedented event in July this year, great masses of people took to the streets in protest, an collective act that was not possible in past years.

The song also pays tribute to the San Isidro movement, a response to state censorship of artistic works: “They broke our door/they violated our temple/and the world is aware that the San Isidro Movement is still in position”. The current president has called this movement (as well as the rap song) unpatriotic and for it to be crushed.

Now, as fuel to protest fire, Patria y Vida has been nominated for a Latin Grammy award, an achievement that is sure to help keep the torch of protest going for some time (Update: on Thursday night the song won Song of the Year at the Latin Grammy Awards!).


Call For Applications: Academy In Exile Announces Fellowships For Artists At Risk

Academy in Exile is a consortium, founded in 2017, which offers fellowships and residency to artists and cultural producers who have been subject to oppression, are at risk, or have been displaced because of their work and their voice. The residency is in Berlin.

The artists and producers are invited “to work on Fixing What’s Broken and suggest artistic solutions to the interconnected problems posed by forced migration, conflict, authoritarianism, and knowledge at risk. The three artists in residence, funded by a grant from the Allianz Kulturstiftung, will be associated with Academy in Exile’s Critical Thinking Program at the Freie Universität Berlin.”

The original call for applications can be found here.