* Artwatch Africa presents RIGHT TO LIFE Musical Video in Lagos
Members of the ‘Artwatch Africa Ambassadors for Creative Expressions’ have condemned the attack on Studio Abazon of Burkinabe top rapper and revolutionary artiste, Serges Martin Bambara aka Smokey. The attack occurred in the morning hours of Thursday September 17 in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
The attack was reportedly carried out by members of the RSP, otherwise known as the ‘Presidential Guard,’ led by General Gilbert Diendere, the leader of the military junta that seized power in the country early today.
Smokey is the leader of a popular socio-political movement called “BALAI CITOYEN” (The Citizens’ Broom), which led the revolt against the dictatorial actions of former President Blaise Compraore. The popular revolt forced Compraore to resign and flee the country on 31st October, 2014. General Diendere was number two man to Compraore, and his leadership of the RSP had targeted Smockey and members of ‘The Citizens’ Broom, ” whom they perceived as enemies of the ousted Compraore.
Studio Abazon, according to rights activists in Ouga, was rocket-bombed by members of the RSP. According to report, the well-equipped studio, which is the hub of young and aspiring musicians in Ouga, was damaged beyond repair, which confirms the suspicion that it was an orchestrated attack on the artiste, who in recent years has become the rallying voice for the politically decimated angry and idealistic young Burkinabe.
Earlier in March, Smokey had played host to eleven other top musicians from eight African countries, who are known as the Ambassadors for Creative Expressions under Artwatch Africa, a project promoted by the pan-African body of artistes and culture workers, Arterial Network. The eleven musicians had recorded a single track in the studio titled RIGHT TO LIFE, which incidentally was campaigning for the freedom of artistic expressions.
Two of the ambassadors, Nigeria’s Ade Bantu and Senegalese Didier Awadi, who spoke against the bombing of Studio Abazon, said the bombing reaffirm the fact that artistes’ life is not secured in many parts of the continent, and that African leaders.
They urged the Economic Community of West Africa, the African Union and the United Nations to make the necessary intervention to ensure that the attackers of Smokey’s Abazon studio are brought to justice.
Also a statement from the Project manager of Artwatch Africa, Diana Ramarohetra, who coordinated the ‘Ambassadors’ workshop and recording in Ouga in March, stated in part: “The artists are in danger in Ouagadougou. The Artist is not terrorist… the artist has the right to defend what he thinks is right. Of course, his voice can be stronger, his words more minced, more aggressive. But as it is often said only the truth hurts… The Artist has a responsibility to the public, towards his convictions. The Artist is there to denounce where the social contract has been broken. These artists, despite their commitment to organizations in the civil society, and despite the challenges that confront their legitimacy, are non-political. They aspire to one thing: That Africa puts an end to these political unrests that continue to hurt our image and our future”.
Meanwhile, RIGHT TO LIFE, the musical video that was audio-recorded in the bombed studio and mastered by Smokey, will be formally presented in Nigeria on Friday September 18 during the monthly AFROPOLITAN VIBES concert of Ade Bantu. The Senegalese, Didier Awadi, who also has a bit of his family from Nigeria, will also be featuring in the concert as well as presenting the video clip. Time is 7pm in the Food Court of the Freedom Park, 1 Hospital Road, by Broad Street, Lagos.
The eleven leading artistes that featured in the audio and video recordings of RIGHT TO LIFE under the collective name of Artwatch Africa Ambassadors for Creative Expressions are:
Didier Awadi ( Sénégal)
Soum Bill ( Côte d’Ivoire)
Josey ( Côte d’Ivoire)
Zeynab ( Bénin)
Master Soumy ( Mali)
Monza ( Mauritanie)
Smokey ( Burkina Faso)
Alif Naaba ( Burkina Faso)
Awa Sissao ( Burkina Faso)
Pheno Bi ( Niger)
Ade Bantu ( Nigéria)
Earlier this year, Artwatch Africa, an arm of the pan-continental body, Arterial Network, had launched the Ambassadors for Creative Expressions project, which has the sole aim of canvassing for freedom of artistic rights and creative expression. The launch was held through a two-day workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in the course of the 24th Pan-African Cinema and Television, FESPACO 2015.
In the two-day workshop, held March 4 to 5, the artistes were taken through a workshop on various issues involved in freedom of creative expression. Many of them meeting for the first time at the workshop, the artistes collaborated to forge common aims and strategies that could be adopted in championing freedom of artistic and creative expression on the continent. With guidance from officials of the Artwatch Africa (of Arterial Network), the artistes set up a focus group and tried to identify challenges to be overcome so that artists would be accorded their due respect in all the countries of the continent.
The aim of the meeting, stressed Artwatch Africa officials, is to reinforce presence and involvement in the struggle for freedom of creative and artistic expression on the continent and to also provide them (artistes) with tools that will assist in the defence of freedom of expression such as interviews, concerts, their grassroots presence and field action.
The two-day session was concluded with a concert by the Burkinabe top rapper, Smokey as he launched his latest album, leading his fellow hip-hoppers, members of the “Balai Citoyen” (The Citizen Broom) collective, on March 5 in the ruins of the old National Assembly of Ouagadougou.
The highlight of the workshop was the recording of joint single titled RIGHT TO LIFE, which was initiated by the Senegalese rapper and revolutionary singer, Didier Awadi. The song, according to him is an opportunity by the artistes from across the continent to unite their voices and record song on freedom of expression.
Aside the audio recording which was done with collaboration of Studio Sankara led by Smokey, Right To Life ahs also been released as a Musical Video. It will be formally presented in Nigeria on Friday September 18 during the monthly AFROPOLITAN VIBES concert of Ade Bantu. The Senegalese, Didier Awadi, who also has a bit of his family from Nigeria, will also be featuring in the concert as well as presenting the video clip. Time is 7pm in the Food Court of the Freedom Park, 1 Hospital Road, by Broad Street, Lagos.
A youtube version of the video can be viewed at
ON ARTERIAL NETWORK: Arterial Network is a dynamic, pan-African civil society network comprising artists, activists, organisations and institutions engaged in the African creative sector. The Network is incubated in Nigeria by the leading culture advocay group, the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, and it is known as CORA-Arterial Network with headquarters in Surulere, Lagos.
PROFILE OF AMBASSADORS
Ade Bantu is a Nigerian-German musician, music and film producer. He is the front man of the 13-piece band, Bantu and the founder of the Afro-German music collective and NGO, Brothers Keepers. Adebantu and Bantu are known for their eclectic fusion of the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba’s and the hybrid sounds of the African diaspora. The award-winning group has partaken in concerts and workshops programs in Germany, Sweden, Holland, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria. The Bantu collective currently host a monthly concert series in Lagos called “Afropolitan Vibes”- A platform they created for musicians, singer/ songwriters to perform mostly original material. Asides from music, Adebantu has developed and executed numerous performing arts and cross-cultural projects like Framewalk and BornTroWay. He has also produced short films and documentaries. He is currently working with Bantu on their 5th studio album. www.bantucrew.com
Alif Naaba (Burkina Faso): Singer and guitarist Alif Naaba has opted for a style of folk music influenced by Mossé culture. Nicknamed the Barefoot Prince, he was brought up by a cabaret-singing mother whose sweet vocals inspired him as a little boy. His music is full of subtle orchestrations that induce introspection and meditation; it is a fusion of African tones and jazz sounds. In 2003 his first album introduced him to listeners in Burkina Faso and he quickly became one of the most bankable figures in African folk. The OIF supported his appearances at the 2010 globalFEST in New York and at the 2011 Cervantino International Festival, which suggested a promising future career for this talented newcomer. Alif Naaba was awarded a creative grant by the Institut Français in 2012. www.alifnaaba.net
Didier Awadi (Senegal): Awadi is unquestionably the most visible rapper of Francophone Africa. Winner of RFI Afrique 2003, a leading artist and visionary singer, he also devotes his energy to film and artistic production. With his revolutionary outlook, Didier explores critical topics for the continent, such as heritage, illegal immigration, political conflict and insecurity. He is also participating in their structuring of Senegalese music sector through his label, his recording studio and its space repetition, Studio Sankara. After the success of his documentary “The Lion view” (Cannes, 2011), Awadi is preparing another film project.
Josey Priscille (Ivory Coast): Josey is in the register of references in Ivory Coast in share her singing voice status and is often sought for services during the dinners organized on the occasion of visits by heads of states in the country. Revealed by the competition Castel live Opera, Priscilla Josey is fast becoming the rising star of the Ivorian music. Live singer Josey dream, to 24, a career International. In 2014, she released a single titled “On nothing with that, “a musical success that enchants waves regional radio stations.
Master Soumy (Mali): The music making this artists mark is single since 2006: a mix of rap tempo, traditional instruments and acoustic guitar. Master Soumy won in record time as one of the must-leaders of hip-hop Mali. The originality of his texts, commitment for the cause of the poor, are assets that it gives rapper status simplest and most available for his fans. Today, after several national, African tours, European and USA, Soumy is dedicating himself to his fourth album.
Phéno Bi (Niger): The Kaidan Gaskia group saw the light of day with Phéno Bi and Suprem Peto. The group’s philosophy and approach enabled them to gain prominence and to project a positive image of Niger artists vis-à-vis the youth. With a total of seven albums under its belt, the Kaidan Gaskia group was able to stand out as a model for Niger’s enlightened youths to emulate and they spared no effort in mounting the rostrum to defend the cause of the youths and children. Kaidan Gaskia was equally able to impose its style by making economic and political issues, freedom of expression, difficulties faced by street children and the status of women in the society the main subject matter in its songs.
He won the “Best Artist of the Year” category of Kundé, a national Burkinabé music award, in 2006. In 2010 he won the Kora Awards, in the category “Best Hip-Hop Artist.
In 2013 he co-founded Le Balai Citoyen (“The Citizen’s Broom”), a grassroots political movement, together with the reggae musician Sams’K Le Jah. With his friend Didier Awadi, they went on tour all over Africa to share their message : more democracy and justice.
Soum Bill (Ivory Coast): Soum Bill began his artistic career in 1989 through
various musical groups. He had his first success with “The Bastards” a quartet that was the heyday of the Ivorian music between 1995 and 2000. After this extraordinary career, he devoted the last fifteen years to a solo career. This allowed him to realize more musical works and performances on various national and international scenes. Urban music has rocked his childhood and represents for him a second means of control in addition to the Zouglou music remains one of his pillars.
Zeynab Habib (Benin): Born in Cote d’Ivoire where she lived for 16 years, Zeynab was nurtured by music and remains a multi-faceted artist. Her musical premier titled “Intori” saw the light of day in 2002. Zeynab won several distinctions among which are the “2002 Excellence Prize” for Women in plural, the Most Inspirational African Female during the 2004 Black Music Awards, the Prize for the Best Love Song of the Cupidon Show in Cotonou, the Benin Oscars (Best Female Artist for 2011). She is also winner of the highly coveted KORA AWARD trophy in the Best African Female Artist category for 2005. This extremely generous woman, has taken up the cause of children and women through her music. Since September 2007, she is UNICEF Ambassador for Benin.