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Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna is but one of the most natural acts of African communities in the Diaspora: to organize, study, promote and preserve their cultural heritage in a foreign environment which is always ready to deny their specific identity and to make irrelevant their most basic human needs.

The Ghanaian community in Vienna, though not extremely large, is definitely one of the most active foreign groups in Vienna that is well-known for its activities in the area of culture and the various events organized by the Union of Ghanaian Nationals in Austria, such as the Ghana Cultural Day, the Republican Day Celebration or the Independence Day Celebration form an essential part of cultural life in Vienna - at least among the foreigners. The Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna is an integral part of these events.

Songs and dances constitute indispensable elements in African cultural life and reflect the dynamics of the African society. There are songs for war, recreation, festivals or other ceremonies, work songs, fertility songs, harvest songs, historical songs that tell the history of kings and courts, a function typically performed by griots in some West African Societies, with an accompanying balafon or kora.

Listening to the songs of the Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna may remind some of the better known American Gospel Singers, especially by the call and response patterns of some of the songs. But one must not lose the historical perspective and misunderstand the African contribution to world culture: these traditions which have been popularized by the African-Americans are basically African traditions which have been brought to the Americas by Africans transported there during the nefarious and wicked slave trade. They are not America's gift to Africa!

A Short History of the Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna

The idea of a Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna, was born on 31 December 1992 when a few persons, Joe and Akossiwa Taylor, Jeanette Owusu, Sam Yeboah, Margareth Yeboah, Mary Nuwordu and Evelyne Oduro-Kwanteng started singing that night "Afe ako apro" and "Afehyapa ato hen bio!" to say farewell to the passing year and welcome to the new year.

Those persons at Joe Taylor's house on that evening were so happy with the singing that they decided, with the support of other Ghanaians contacted later, to form a choir, which was eventually named the Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna.

The first rehearsal of the choir took place on 13 February 1993 at the "Pfarrgemeinde Ottakring" in order to rehearse for the Ghana Independence Day celebration of the Union of Ghanaian Nationals in Austria, on 6 March 1993 in the Audimax of the Technical University, Vienna.

The choir also performed during the Ghana Cultural Day in November 1993 and during the Republic Day Celebration in July 1994 in Vienna.

With the increasing popularity of the choir, invitations have come from outside the Ghanaian community. For example, the choir was invited to sing in a Catholic church in St. Corona during a celebration. It has often sung in churches although it is by no means a religious choir. The choir has sung on different occasions at weddings, outdooring ceremonies, baptism and thanksgiving services. It sings both traditional songs and popular songs from Ghana. Coming from a multinational country, the songs of Ghana reflect the various cultural and linguistic groups that exist in the country. Most of the songs are composed by members of the choir.

The officers of the choir at the moment are:

President: Godwin Nuwordu
Secretary: Evelyn Oduro Kwateng
Organizing Sec: Joseph Akumasi
Treasurer: Jeanette Owusu
Choir Master: Kojo Taylor
Asst. Choir Master: James Cobbina

Social Committee: Stephen Opoku Takyi, Nana Apraku Oppong,
                            Kojo Ampia-Addison

The Ghana Minstrel Choir - Vienna was formally inaugurated on 22 March 1997 on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of Ghana's Independence Day celebrated by the Union of Ghanaian Nationals in Austria in the Palais Eschenbach, Vienna.

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