by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Benton
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa band Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa band, Wings of Dixie, recently returned from a landmark mission to Chad, Africa.
This trip was in support of efforts to build a stronger partnership and strengthen security with Africa. USAFE/AFAFRICA band’s gift of music reaches a diverse audience of students and community leaders, positively representing the U.S. commitment to democracy and freedom in the region.
Wings of Dixie, a component group of the USAFE/AFAFRICA band stationed at Ramstein, has been around for about 10 years. They are the only ensemble of its kind traveling throughout Europe and Africa playing their up-beat, toe-tapping Dixieland jazz.
Chad is emerging as a key player in Africa’s political future and this trip was in direct support of building a stronger foundation in the region.
The band played during several important community events in N’Djamena, the capitol of Chad. Performances at local schools, cultural centers and at the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena capped off a week of cultural exchange. The members also shared their gift of music with dignitaries, such as the Ministry of Culture Dayane Menwa Enock and the Chadian Secretary General Netcho Abbo.
As with all music, these performances naturally evolved, bringing the Chadian audience and the American musicians together in song and dance.
Master Sgt. Steve Przyzycki, percussionist and NCO in charge of Wings of Dixie, said he was overwhelmed with the audience connection and response.
“The USAFE band came to Chad prepared to perform music and tell the Air Force story,” he said. “It quickly became a wonderful exchange of culture and partnership with the people of Chad, and we are very grateful for the opportunity to foster this new friendship.”
Press coverage of the N’Djamena English International School performance reached nearly 7 million people in the region and was translated to French and Arabic. Steven Omosagie, director of NEIS, said he was delighted by the experience.
“You have made history today and you have shown us love and understanding through music,” Omosagie said. “This is good for all of us and for the future of Chad.”
Typically, a performance can create a separation between audience and performer, however, in Chad this boundary ceased to exist. This historic Air Force mission to Chad was an opportunity to extend the hand of friendship and foster a partnership with this pivotal nation.
“This was the first visit by a U.S. military band to Chad. Given the overwhelming response it engendered, we enthusiastically welcome future visits by the Wings of Dixie,” said U.S. Ambassador Mark Boulware. “Hopefully, this will be the first of many visits, as the USAFE band works closely with AFAFRICA in support of peace and security in the region.”