The Words of the Kato Family

Togolese Music and Dance Uplift Spirits in a Devastated Area of Japan

Shigenari Kato
April 28, 2013
Secretary General, UPF Peace Diplomats Forum

Sendai, Japan -- In order to revitalize the Tohoku Region in Japan, the worst-affected area of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and also to celebrate the Independence Day of Togo, a music concert was held on April 28 in Sendai city of the Miyagi prefecture, one of the central cities of the Tohoku Region.

Mr. King Mensah, one of the most popular singers in Togo, West Africa, who is known as "the Golden Voice of Togo," came to Japan for the first time for a concert organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Togo with joint hosting of UPF-Japan, Tohoku Ambassadors for Peace Association, and the Association for Supporting Togo.

Three months after the earthquake, the President of Togo, H.E. Mr. Faure Gnassibgbe came to Japan to visit the people in the devastated areas in Miyagi and expressed the solidarity of the Togolese people. Also, in May 2012, the Togolese government donated teak wood to Japan, which was made into 200 benches and distributed to temporary housing sites and parks in the devastated areas in Miyagi. Beside these events, dozens of UPF volunteers from Miyagi have been working in Togo to carry out various activities, and Mr. Bodjona Alewabia Delali Akelesso, Charge d'Affaires of Togo in Japan and an Ambassador for Peace, was inspired by their works. These factors led to the concert organized by the Togo Embassy with the cooperation of UPF-Japan.

The concert hall with 380 seats was completely packed from the beginning. First, Mr. Lyu Geunjeoung, co-chairman of Tohoku Ambassadors for Peace Association, made welcoming remarks as a co-organizer. He introduced Togo's support to Miyagi after the earthquake and said, "The concert will be a great opportunity to learn to know African culture and develop friendship between Africa and Japan."

After a congratulatory address by a parliament member from the Miyagi district, Mr.Bodjona made his remarks as the organizer.

He first expressed his thanks for the support of the UPF volunteers in Togo and asked the audience to applaud them, saying, "With a wonderful vision, UPF expands love and peace throughout the world."

Before Mr. King Mensah's entertainment, the UPF volunteers to Togo went on stage and sang a traditional Togolese song at the request of Mr. Bodjona.

Soon after Mr. King Mensah started singing, the audience, especially the young people, got very excited and stood up and bounced to the rhythm in front of the stage, and Mr. Bodjona urged them to go on stage and dance with the musicians.

Before long, all of the audience, young and old and men and women, were dancing with great enjoyment along with the musicians as if they were truly one family. Some people in the audience later shared their impressions and said they felt like they were in the kingdom of heaven on earth.

The concert was certified as a partner event of the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) by the Secretariat of TICAD V and the Japanese government. TICAD V, organized by the Japanese government and some of the UN systems, will be held at the beginning of June this year in the city of Yokohama. 

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