More than 18,000 people have signed an online petition to have Tanzanian bongo flava sensation, Diamond Platinumz disqualified from the BET Awards on 27 June.
The petition was published by Change Tanzania, a social movement focused on bringing positive and sustainable change in the East African country. The petitioners are accusing the ‘Waah’ hitmaker of using his artistry and influence to publicly support the autocratic rule of the late president John Magufuli, who died in March.
“Diamond Platnumz is a world-renowned Tanzanian artiste who used his popularity and his talent to whitewash and deodorise the brutal repression of the late dictator John Magufuli and his regime,” Change Tanzania said. “Diamond is also a close friend and business ally of Paul Makonda, the former governor who openly persecuted and cracked down on LGBTI people. Makonda has also been designated in 2020 by the US State Department for gross violations of human rights including cracking down on freedom of expression and association.”
The petition continues: “Diamond Platnumz is a self-avowed CCM [Chama Cha Mapinduzi] party member and was the lead musician for the CCM campaign in 2015 and 2020. In 2020, despite a huge outcry locally and internationally against Magufuli and his regime, Diamond endorsed this brutal dictator, dedicated a song to him (‘Magufuli Baba Lao’) and several times took to stage with him during the campaign.”
Other reasons highlighted in the petition were the musician’s alleged failure to show solidarity with his fellow artistes, including rappers Roma Mkatoliki and Nay wa Mitego, who were arrested in 2017 for using music as a call to action against human rights abuses and authoritarian rule in the country.
“Diamond Platnumz chose to protect and expand his personal and business interest by praising and using his star power to soften the image of a brutal dictator and his collaborators,” they further claimed.
Change Tanzania believes that “once BET independently verifies these facts, it will be clear that Diamond Platnumz does not deserve any recognition in these prestigious awards.”
Change Tanzania was started by Tanzanian communication expert and media personality Maria Sarungi Tsehai. It has spearheaded impressive social media campaigns, including a call to repeal a section of the Financial Act, which authorises a SIM card tax in Tanzania, and an ongoing petition against the Cybercrimes Act.
Last month, Diamond Platnumz, who is currently East Africa’s most successful musician, signed a 360 strategic partnership deal with Warner Music Group and Ziiki Media. The deal will benefit artistes signed under his Wasafi Classic Baby record label, including Mbosso and 2017 BET Award winner Rayvanny.