The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Band rock ensemble, Touch n' Go is playing concerts at multiple venues here throughout the duration of African Partnership Flight Angola 2014.
African Partnership Flight is a collaborative learning environment designed to help the U.S. and regional partner air forces in Africa work together more effectively. With more than 20 Zambian and 35 U.S. participants, it is also the largest U.S. military exercise in Angola in the last nine years.
Many Angolan citizens are skeptical of military interests in the region and the band can help ease tensions that may exist.
"When Angola became independent in 1975, it became a communist regime country, and the United States used to support the formal rebels with the weapons and the money," said Phil Nelo, U.S. Embassy Luanda media relations and Angolan citizen. "Angolans think, well, Americans are coming here for the oil; they don't care about the people of Angola. And of course, coming with a band, it's kind of a boost. The U.S. government interests in Angola, is not only on an economic form, but also in the people to build cooperation."
The United States formerly established diplomatic ties with the Republic of Angola in 1993 after the nation's government renounced Marxism. Since that time, the two governments have begun actively strengthening their partnership through events like APF.
Throughout the week the Band will perform outreach concerts in several venues including event ceremonies, local schools, and broadcast radio.
During a recent engagement at the Dom Bosco School in Luanda, Angola, the Touch n' Go musicians put on a music workshop for the children and performed a concert, which included a song they rehearsed with the students.
Pedro Sakala, Dom Bosco School music director, said that his favorite part of the day was the fact that he could feel the love of the band for the children.
"[Playing with the band] was the part we were most looking forward to, because it was more interactive and the children were more involved in it because they got to actually play with the band," he said.
The schoolchildren echoed his sentiments.
"It was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed it," said Guilhermino Sanguifi, student and saxophone player. "I really liked it and I hope that one day I can travel to America too and participate in something similar."
The mission of the United States Air Force in Angola this week is to build partnerships between the Angolan, U.S. and Zambian air forces, but also to make a lasting impression on the people of Angola.
"Our mission here is to support African Partnership Flight and I think what is really great about the USAFE Band being here to support that is that music is a universal language," said Master Sgt. Steven Pryzyzcki, USAFE Band percussionist.
The band's outreach performances with schools are of specific importance to long-term goals of building partnerships.
"The school performances are absolutely fantastic and the main reason why is that the hope of all of these countries, whether it be Angola, Zambia or the United States, is in the children," said Pryzyzcki. "And any opportunity that allows us to understand each other a little bit is a step in the right direction."
Produced by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wilson
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