Serge Martin Bambara, better known under the pseudonym Smockey or Smock, is one of the most famous burkinabe artists. Smockey is known not only for his music but also for his dedication to democracy and freedom of speech.
Smockey: no rebel, no revolutionary, just free!
Born to a father from southeast Burkina Faso and a French mother, Smockey left Burkina Faso for France in 1991 where he studied catering and hotel management.
However, music ran through his veijs from an early age, and he created a home studio, with help from his friend and arranger Alain Toko, while still a teenager. In 1999, he signed with EMI and released his first recording as a duet with famous French singer LAAM. It was at this point that he adopted the name of Smockey (‘from the French ‘s’moquer’, ‘to mock’ in English).
The Citizen’s Broom
In March 2001, Smockey went back to Burkina Faso where he set up Studio Abazon (‘Go Fast Studio’ in the local language of Bissa) and released his first album ‘Épitaphe’. It was the beginning of his international career.
Smockey became a leading figure in the hiphop movement, strongly criticising the government with his fourth album “CCP” (which stands for “Cravate, Costard et Pourriture“ or “Tie, Suit and Potrait” in English). His commitment reached its peak with the grassroots political movement ‘Le balai citoyen’ (‘The Citizen’s Broom’), co-founded by Smockey and reggae artist Sams’K Le Jah.
The movement mobilised young people throughout the country and became an important part of the opposition against President Blaise Compaoré who, in a prefiguring of later events in The Gambia, finally resigned and fled the country in October 2014.
Ambassador of Conscience
For his dedication Smockey has received several prestigious awards, among others the ‘Music in Exile Fellowship’ prize from the Freedom of Expression awards in 2016. The Awards are organized by the NGO “Index on Censorship” which every year rewards activists who have had significant impact fighting censorship.
In the same year Amnesty International awarded him the ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ prize for his fight for young people through his Citizens’ Broom movement.