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 Article by Lt Mbali Dladla, Air Force Swartkop;  photos by Cpl Tebogo Kekana, AD ASTRA Magazine

The sweet melodies of the South African Air Force (SAAF) Band touched the young and old during the concert, which was held at Uitenhage Indoor Sports Centre, Port Elizabeth. The Air Force band under the leadership of Lt Col Matthys Piennar gave a sterling performance, which included the instrumental version of Shakira’s 2010 hit single, Waka Waka. The band shared the stage with the local favorites, the Mandela Metro School of Arts community band.

Air Force Band kept the audience on the edge of their seats

The evening (15 February 2016) saw the audience, which could be counted in hundreds, singing, clapping and dancing to the music. A brief introductory background to allow the audience to follow and understand the song’s message preceded each song. The Mandela School of Arts community band opened the night of drums and trumpets, which was attended by the young and old.

Air Force Band kept the audience on the edge of their seats

Mr Clod Afrika, the Port Elizabeth-born musician, who has since relocated to Uitenhange for economic prospects believed that the evening was history in the making. “This is the first time in the history of PE that the armed forces converge here. It has never happened before that a community band or any band get to share the same stage with the Air Force band”, he recalled. He urged the youth to cease the opportunity by engaging the Defence Force members about various career opportunities available in the Defence.

Uitenhage community members listining to the melodies by Air Force Band

When asked what inspired or ignited his love for music, he explained that “I grew up in the church and the passion for music started when I was eight years old. I started playing base trumpet at 13”. For aspiring young musicians, he encouraged them to have passion, determination, love and to connect with other cultures, as music is able to transcend all cultural barriers. Ms Magarate Simmers, the resident of Uitenhage, shared similar sentiments: “The youth of Uitenhage should consider joining the SANDF and stay away from crime and drugs”.

The event, which formed part of the South African National Defence Force Armed Forces Day celebrations, was specifically aimed at reaching out to the community. The overarching objective was to expand the public’s understanding of the military’s role and purpose to society. Brig Gen Kobus Butler, Director Combat Systems (D Combat S), explained the relevancy of the Armed Forces Day. He succinctly narrated the SS Mendi’s historical accident and the braveness of those who perished therefore.  D Combat S and other SAAF representatives gave a brief overview of various career opportunities available particularly in the SAAF. Community members, the youth in particular, were encouraged to visit the SANDF Armed Forces Day Fan Park, where careers (within) and capabilities of the SANDF will be exhibited.

After two hours of musical experience, the usual outcry “we want more, we want more” filled the sporting complex.



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