Ney wa Mitego
Emmanuel Elibariki, who performs as Nay wa Mitego, was arrested at a hotel on Sunday 26 March Ney wa Mitego/Instagram

The Tanzanian president has said he loves the song that led to the arrest of a popular rapper. Emmanuel Elibariki, who performs as Nay wa Mitego, was arrested – and subsequently released – at a hotel in the city of Morogoro, on Sunday ( 26 March).

Elibariki is known for his political lyrics. The latest song, Wapo, which has not been broadcast on the radio yet, appears to be critical of the government for its alleged crackdown on freedom of speech.

"Is there still freedom of expression in the country?" the song, largely shared on social media at the weekend, says.

"Who are you now? Don't you want to listen to advice? Don't you want criticism?" continue the lyrics, in Swahili.

The song speaks of a person who "lances boils" but cannot tolerate criticism. Some believe it is a reference to President John Magufuli, who has often spoken of "lancing boils" in his governance.

Morogoro police said the artist was arrested for "releasing a song with words that malign the government".

But it seems that Magufuli loves the song and appreciates the way it deals with issues the country faces, according to new information minister Harrison Mwakyembe, appointed by Mangufuli earlier this month.

Magufuli also said the song can be broadcast and suggested Nay wa Mitego could add more verses that condemn corruption and tax evasion to the song, according to the BBC.

The rapper's arrest came days after Magufuli warned local media to be careful on how they use press freedom.

The leader made the remarks after accusing media owners of exaggerating an incident in which a plain clothes security officer pointed a gun at former information minister Nape Nnaye to stop him from addressing the media.