As humans, we are always in a competitive state of mind. When we are not comparing ourselves with others, we like to compare one person to the other.
However, sometimes it’s nice to admit that one person is simply in a league of their own and no one else comes close.
People have been comparing Diamond with Ali Kiba for the longest time and I’ve never understood why. Diamond, the man who has collaborated with more than five artistes outside the African continent and a dozen top names from within Africa is often compared to the man who can’t even get a collabo with a B-list Nigerian artiste.
Diamond, the man who drops a new hit song every month is often compared to the man who releases one or two new songs a year. Diamond, the man who has his own record label as well as many other business ventures is often compared to the man who has been around since some of us were teenagers but only started his first major business this year.
Diamond, the man who has power-lifted several other talented individuals from poverty into superstardom is often compared to the man who is so narcissistic that he rarely even features his fellow Tanzanians in his songs.
The gap between the two artistes is vast.
If I was Diamond, I would be totally pissed. Where is the respect? Or as Birdman would say it – ‘respeck?’
Diamond is always a sure bet. If you log in to YouTube and you see a notification of a new song by him, you know it’s going to be good. He bestrides the airwaves with one foot in R&B syncopation and the other foot in party songs. He has never lost the adroitness for finding lyrical motifs that are sure to resonate well with his fans.
Every time he drops a song he keeps raising the bar. The way he has progressed from “Mbagala” to “Jibebe” is like watching a skinny man at the gym lifting weights every single day until he has those muscles and a six-pack.
Ali Kiba used to try but nowadays his songs have the exhausted, exasperated tone of someone crushing a dudu (an insect). His style is withering and decaying. He appears to have reached a cul-de-sac.
We can all agree that Diamond’s only flaw lies in his personal life. He doesn’t personify the morals that Tanzanians are known for. And despite being a composer of love songs, he has proven that he really has no clue how to love. He is often controversial and tends to treat women’s hearts like they are Lego toys. Perhaps this is why some people hate him.
But Kiba is no saint either. He has more than five children with different women. He has also been accused of failing to pay child support.
These two artistes have uninspiring personal lives so it’s only fair to compare them in their craft. And if we do that, the “Aje” hitmaker really falls short.
A good number of Kiba sympathisers also adore him because he’s been around for a long time. He defined a certain period of our lives.
Personally, I first heard his music when I was just a high schooler discovering love. Bongo music was at its peak at that time too. I was hooked. “Nakshi Mrembo” was my favourite jam and I made sure to include it as a dedication to every letter that I wrote to a girl.
So, in a way, Ali Kiba deserves to be commended for defining two different eras. He is ideally positioned to please both ends of the spectrum – those who love the old Bongo and those who love the new Bongo. But as the Swahili people say “Kutangulia sio kufika.” Diamond came much later but he has outdone Ali Kiba in every way I can think of.
I am not trying to strip Kiba of his talent; he is clearly a gifted artiste. But if he is a Mercedes C-class, Diamond is a Bugatti Chiron. Both are luxury cars but the former is about $50,000 (Sh5.04 million) while the other is $3 million (Sh302.4 million).
The time, energy and social media proclamations spent on fuelling this clash are unnecessary. It’s time to rest the debate and never revisit it again. Diamond is better than Ali Kiba. He will always be, and the sooner we accept that, the more we will be at peace with ourselves.