USAFE Band sets stage for APF Senegal

  • Published
  • By Capt. Francis Hartnett
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa
The U.S. Air Forces in Europe six-person rock band "Afterburner" kicked off African Partnership Flight here June 13, with weekend performances and continues to reach new audiences.

The band is in Senegal as part of APF Sengal, a week-long program featuring eight African nations meeting to discuss and share lessons to foster regional cooperation and build partnerships.

The band performed at a local university for students and at the Douta Seck Cultural Center along with members of the Senegalese National Orchestra.

"At the university, we performed in an open courtyard for a large group of teenagers" said Tech. Sgt. Jason Cale, a USAFE Band guitarist and vocalist. "After a while people passing by on the street were climbing the walls to watch us. We've been welcomed with open arms at each venue."

The U.S. Embassy cultural outreach team has played an important role in scheduling locations for the band.

"The embassy cultural staff linked us up with different organizations throughout Dakar and outlying villages," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Whitt, a USAFE Band bassist. "What the band offers is the ability to build goodwill with the people of Senegal while Airmen are learning and interacting back at the APF site."

The band also performed with members of the Senegalese Military Band and at local orphanages. Each location is carefully selected to ensure the Senegalese public gets an opportunity to interact with U.S. Airmen.

"This trip has some of the best experiences you'll have on the road," said Senior Airman Melissa Lakore, the USAFE Band lead vocalist. "We'll go anywhere and perform where we're needed. It's fulfilling when you realize that you may be the first American that some of these people have ever met."

"The saying goes that you never get a second chance to make a first impression," Cale said. "If that first meeting involves our music and a smile on their face, then I think we've done our small part to help improve future partnerships and make things better."