NZ pipe band to perform for controversial Libyan leader
Tue, 01 Sep 2009 12:00a.m.
A small Christchurch pipe band is heading to Libya to help celebrate Muammar Gaddafi’s 40 years in power, surprising friends, family and even the Prime Minister.
The majority of European heads of state have boycotted Libya's huge celebrations of Gaddafi's reign after the fall-out from convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Meghari's release.
But the Christchurch pipe band will be playing to the controversial leader later tonight.
Ian Bensemann was a bit surprised when he found out his daughter was going to one of the world's current political hotspots.
“Becca came home one night from band practice and said ‘oh we're going to Libya’ and I sort of said ‘yeah right, what for?’” he says.
The pipe band is travelling to Libya to play in a military tattoo for one of this year's most controversial celebrations.
Thirty African leaders and other dignitaries are gathering in Libya for a week of lavish events to celebrate Mr Gaddafi.
Mr Bensemann says Mr Gadaffi invited the band from Christchurch and is bankrolling the entire trip.
“Basically Mr Gadaffi wanted a tattoo and Mr Gadaffi gets a tattoo,” he says.
Even Prime Minister John Key was surprised by the band’s travel plans.
“Really? Interesting choice of gig,” he says.
Western leaders have boycotted the celebrations after fall-out over Scotland giving Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi early release because he is dying of cancer.
Mr Bensemann said he had to explain the history of the Lockerbie bomber to his daughter before she left.
“She's only 20 so she actually didn't fully understand freeing the Lockerbie bomber and what sort of repercussions that would have,” he says.
Despite the dangers, the band has marched on to Tripoli, playing tonight to Mr Gadaffi with other players from around the world in traditional Scottish woollen kilts.
The band returns to Christchurch on Saturday.
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24/09/2009 2:04:28 p.m.
I was also in Libya as a member of the pipe band from Australia.Let me point out that we were all invited to participate in a MUSIC FESTIVAL 12 months ago not a political one.Yes, the timing was bad for the bands with Scotland (my home country,) releasing their prisoner when they did right or wrong this was a political decission. The bands agreed to take part & thus were contracted.Yes, all expenses were paid by the Libyans (so what). My suitcase was half packed before the Lockerbie bomber was released that's how close the timing was. In Libya all participants were greeted by members of the public & military with a smile & made most welcome.There were tens of thousands of people over the festival period & I did not see 1 bit of trouble (pitty the same can't be said about our soccer, rugby etc). We ALL went there to play music & music we played & enjoyed. Yes, if asked to do it again I am sure we would all put our hands up(as musicians, not politicians).To all the knockers, make sure your brain is switched on before puting your mouth in gear.Good on you Christchurch band members.
5/09/2009 12:02:09 p.m.
heather kinley wrote:
MY partner is one of the pipers from nz in Liyba. The media are making a mountain out of a mole hill in regards to the band having their fares etc paid by Libya to go to their country. It's a great opportunity for this band. This is a peaceful festival and unfortunately the Libians are using the message as Gaddafi's 40 years of power, which is not good advertising for the country in regards to the past and it has nothing to do with the freeing of the lockerbie bomber. It's sad that he happened to be freed at the same time as the festival, it's called bad timing. Libya has Gaddafi junior now running the show and they are trying to open the country for tourism to let the world see that they have cleaned up their act. This is a music festival not a political gathering and it's a shame the western world could not see this. A scots man let the lockerbie bomber out not the Libyians they just accepted him home. Had his release been late september this would not have been an issue.Not sure were your pictures of the band shown on the news came from, as it certainly is not the christchurch pipes and drums. A bit misleading for the public don't you think!
3/09/2009 4:52:29 p.m.
Apologies to all the misled people who have commented here. Unfortunately you have been grossly misled by TV3. The coverage in this article (I see now the blurb beneath the photo now shows "stock footage") is one of the top New Zealand pipe bands (in our grade). This band has absolutely nothing to do with the festival in Libya.
In fact, this Libyan group is not a band that exists outside of this event. The players have gone by their own choice. It was by no means a political decision - simply a chance to play music.
To "Sam". I am writing off your ignorance as a lack of education. I would ask how many international events you remember from your first year of life - the age Becca was during the Lockerbie incident... If one does not have an understanding of the original event, how could one understand the repercussions following on from it?!
3/09/2009 2:59:37 a.m.
DM Kerry Lloyd wrote:
First of all my friend, we are not performing to celebrate his 40 years of dictatorship. The band is currently in Tripoli, Libya, as an invited participant in a World Military Music Festival being held in conjunction with celebrations marking that country’s national day.Al Fateh is an international Festival of Freedom. There are bands from all around the world here with one common goal - to make music. We have no political stance on this, we are only musicians.See other comments below.
2/09/2009 11:08:30 p.m.
john cookson wrote:
I utterly appalled a pipe band from New Zealand has been performing at the "celebrations" of Colonel Gaddaffi's 40 years as a muderous dictator. Are you people in New Zealand so naiive you don't realise what this stands for? I really despair.
2/09/2009 9:24:57 p.m.
Hey Sam - do the maths pal - Lockerbie Dec. 21, 1988 the girl is 20 yrs old now - makes her birth year about 1989. She was 1 yr old when the event happened. No wonder her Dad had to tell her about it - whats your memory like for world and political events from the time you were 1?
2/09/2009 2:43:41 p.m.
As it happens, I am in Libya right now and as far as I know, none of us have been contacted by anyone from the Press directly.First of all, the band pictured here is not the band that is here in Libya. This photo should not be up here and needs to be removed.Secondly, the 'poor girl' is not slow. She is one of my fantastic drummers and I strongly object to any further derogatory comments on here about her. It is unnecessary to bring the Lockerbie bomber into any of this. It is not about him.This trip is not about 'supporting Qadaffi' either. It is about top musicians from all over the world getting together in one place to make music. Anyone who has any appreciation at all for music would be honoured to stand in the middle of Green Square and be part of such an amazing event just as I am.Al Fateh is an international Festival of Freedom.I have spent my time with drummers from Kenya, Pakistan, Austria, Russia etc and have had a fantastic experience playing with them - both in the festival and right here where we are staying in my free time.It is not often that you get an opportunity to 'jam' with musicians from this part of the globe and we are certainly making the most of it.We are very lucky to be part of this and I will never forget it.I am more than happy to supply photos and FACTs about our trip.Sgt~ Music has no borders.
2/09/2009 11:24:16 a.m.
Exactly. People should be careful what they say about others even if it is their own daughter. She may not understand about the Lockerbie bomber but there would be a lot of NZers that dont. Perhaps TV3 should get incontact with someone who is actually in Libya with the Pipe band and talk direct to them. And the Pipeband does not arrive home until Monday afternoon.
2/09/2009 11:08:49 a.m.
She is not slow, that's a pretty nasty thing to say about someone who you have never met!!!
1/09/2009 9:48:45 p.m.
I'd like to point out that its not the band shown in the item that has travelled to Lybia! Typical of NZ media - they don't tell you that! (I also believe most of the "band" that went there aren't even from Christchurch!)
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