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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
10BANGUI13
2010-01-25 16:55:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bangui
Cable title:  

CAR: BIG HILLBILLY BLUEGRASS BAND TAKES BANGUI

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  SCUL  CT 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO7232
RR RUEHBZ RUEHGI
DE RUEHGI #0013/01 0251655
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251655Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BANGUI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1140
INFO RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 0005
RUEHPC/AMEMBASSY LOME 0010
RUEHBZ/AMEMBASSY BRAZZAVILLE 0273
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0572
RUEHGI/AMEMBASSY BANGUI 1439
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGUI 000013 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C, AF/PD, AND ECA
PARIS FOR ARS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SCUL CT
SUBJECT: CAR: BIG HILLBILLY BLUEGRASS BAND TAKES BANGUI



1. SUMMARY: The visit of "Bob Perilla's Big Hillbilly Bluegrass
Band" (BHBB) to the Central African Republic from January 16 to
21 was a resounding success that enabled post to build good will
with the Central African Government and populace and provide an
exchange of traditional American and Central African art forms.
The highlights of the tour were the normally reserved President
Francois Bozize dancing to bluegrass at the Ambassador's
residence, a joint concert with local groups at the national
stadium that played to a crowd of 4,000,a performance with the
Ba'Aka (Pygmies) of the Lobaye rainforest, and a performance
for Bangui street children at Voie du Coeur (Voice of the Heart)
orphanage. END SUMMARY.
HIGHLIGHTS


2. After arriving in Bangui from Brazzaville on January 16, the
Big Hillbilly Bluegrass Band traveled to Mongoumba in the Lobaye
rainforest to perform with the Ba'Aka dance troupe on January 18
at the Ba'Aka cultural center. The Ambassador delivered an
impromptu and well received speech in Sango, the national
language (and typically the only foreign language understood by
the Ba'Aka), before giving the stage to the dance troupe and
then the BHBB. The grand finale saw the band play with the
troupe. The event ended with a formal donation of soap (highly
prized) to the Ba'Aka and books to the other residents of
Mongoumba.


3. On January 19, the Band performed for a large group of street
children at Bangui's Voie du Coeur orphanage. This orphanage,
sponsored by Minister of Commerce Biatrice Epaye, is the main
gathering place for orphans, children from abusive homes, and
children displaced by violence in northern CAR. It is the only
place in Bangui for street children to receive free medical
treatment for diseases such as malaria and AIDS. After a tour
of the orphanage lead by Minister Epaye, the Hillbilly Band were
welcomed with songs in English, composed and conducted by a Voie
du Coeur resident now a student at the University of Bangui. The
Band then played to an enthusiastic crowd - the most popular
numbers were sing-alongs and up tempo tunes that brought the
crowd to its feet.


4. During the evening of the 19 January, the Ambassador hosted a
formal reception for senior CARG officials, Central African
artists, the diplomatic corps, and all resident American
citizens. In attendance were President Bozize, the President of
the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, the Minister of
Culture, and many other ministers, senior government officials,
heads of diplomatic missions, and other notables. Again, the
music brought the crowd to their feet. The highlight of the
evening was Mrs. Cook's invitation to President Bozize to join a

lively dance, which he did with a smile.


5. In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of
Education, post offered a free concert at the national stadium
in Bangui on January 20. The program included performances by
the National Ballet, traditional music group Zouy Neti, and the
University of Bangui Choir. The Hillbilly Band energized the
crowd of 4,000 mostly secondary school and university students
(the largest audience in the Band's history) and concluded with
a rousing, multi-lingual rendition of "Down the Road." The
lyrics, improvised in Sango, stressed themes of peace,
reconciliation, and common national identity, major Embassy
Public Diplomacy themes in this violence-torn country.
RESULTS


6. The Hillbilly Band tour created the opportunity for post to
connect with its largest Central African audience since the
reopening of the Embassy in 2005. The events not only showcased
American culture, but also allowed us to build and reinforce
ties with the Ministries of Culture and Education, the
University of Bangui, and the media, and the reception gave us
the opportunity to host the President and senior government
officials in a more relaxed atmosphere.


7. The television, radio, and print media covered all of the
major events noted in this cable. The Band was interviewed by
major media outlets upon arrival. They played on live on Radio
Ndeke Luka, the largest independent broadcaster, to give
listeners a taste of Bluegrass music. The BHBB was also
featured on Radio Centrafrique, the government station. Major
newspaper reviews branded the reception at the residence and the
concert at the stadium as a "true cross cultural success" and
described the Ambassador's Sango address to the stadium crowd as
"marvelous" and "fascinating." The television station is
preparing to air a special program on the BHBB tour in Central
Africa in the next few days. The showcasing of American folk
music again allowed the Embassy to differentiate itself from the
other, larger, and more formal diplomatic missions in Bangui.


8. The Central African Republic is an extremely poor country at
the bottom of the Human Development Index and our relations with
the host government are sometimes challenged and strained due to
a number of issues. The Hillbilly Band tour gave us an
opportunity to engage with people from all levels of Central
African society in a relaxed and fun way, allowing us to improve

BANGUI 00000013 002 OF 002


those interpersonal connections that are so important to the
successful exercise of diplomacy.


9. Embassy Bangui would like to thank ECA, AF/PD, and Embassies
Nouakchott, Lome, and Brazzaville for their generous assistance
with this major cultural event.
COOK