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General News Mon, 27 Jun 2005

Ghana's musical ambassadors to G8 stranded

MAKING Poverty History in Africa is hard enough.

However, getting a dance troupe from Ghana to Scotland to perform in front of the world's eight most powerful men is proving almost as tough. British consular staff were last night blamed for an embarrassing delay in securing visas for 16 of the Gandawi dancers and musicians from a deprived part of the African country.

The troupe were due to fly to Scotland yesterday for a series of high-profile events, including a performance for Tony Blair, George W Bush and other G8 leaders at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire next week. Dubbed "African ambassadors" to the G8, the group are also due to play at the Make Poverty History rally in Edinburgh on Saturday and an Afro-Scottish night the following Friday organised by Perth and Kinross Council.

However, the Gandawi 16 were last night stuck in the Nagasaki Hotel in Accra, the Ghanian capital, awaiting visa approval from UK authorities.

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Sulemann Chebe, the group's leader, who works in Perthshire, said he was "gobsmacked" by their treatment. "It shows the hypocrisy of the G8. On the one hand, they talk about supporting Africa. On the other hand, a group of talented musicians is not being allowed to travel over there. There is no point giving them a visa after the G8 has finished."

A British High Commission spokesman in Accra said the applications had been received but could not comment further.

However, a diplomatic source claimed that visa applications from the group had made no mention of the G8.

Source: The Herald
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