Sunday, July 03, 2005

Is this really 'THE MOMENT'?

Yes, this is moment when I am at home in front of my computer and millions of people around the world are enjoying some fantastic live music puportedly in support of Africa. But it it indeed THE MOMENT in history where according to Sir Geldof "The G8 leaders have it within their power to alter history. They will only have the will to do so if tens of thousands of people show them that enough is enough.". Beleive me when I say that for most people its just a fantastic free concert - a once in a lifetime opportunity to see all the greatest names in music come together and sing their hearts out.

Ok, so I sound miffed (I'm not) that I'm not there, even though I live in London. Well, to be honest, I never texted in because much as I would like to believe in the good intentions of this concert, I can't imagine how it will truly change anything. I'd be lying if I said that if I had a ticket I would not go. I would. There is a small part of me that sincerely wants to believe in the altruism of individuals such as Bono and Sir Bob. They have dedicated a good portion of their lives on trying to bring to our notice the woes of Africa. But I'm afraid I completely disagree that this is the way to do it.

In 1985 Live Aid had the best motives. However, to pretend this emotional, ad hoc response to the complex problems in Africa made a positive difference was naive, deep set in some deluded idea that music changes the world. Money from Live Aid did save lives but there was no significant change in attitudes. With rampant corruption and the frittering away of all the money the West lent them, today Africa is hardly better off. Once again, the poor pay for the greed of the rich.

At least with Live Aid it was about the common man donating time/ money to the cause. Today it is about debt cancellation - how will holding concerts around the world influence the G8 leaders is something I cannot figure out. Of course people will want to attend. Who wouldn't with the impressive line-up Geldof has put together - contacts par excellance. What's in it for the artists beside the 'warm' feeling in their hearts - visibility on the biggest possible scale, free promos for their music albums and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to promote a charitable image. But saying that superstars of music playing and millions of people attending concerts will in anyway influence the status of debt is foolish and only the naivest people will really believe it. Do you think Blair or Chirac are watching Live 8 and thinking "Oooh, look at that, so many people supporting Africa, I think we should cancel debt because it's the will of our people". Please. If the will of people at a concert could change the mind of politician that would be more than a bit miraculous. And we'd have a lot more concerts!

My biggest problem with these grand free concerts to 'support' the African cause is how Bono and Geldof have completely disregarded 'black acts' - surprising for people who are so passionate about Africa. The argument that the dominance of white faces among the Live 8 line-up reflects the need for big names to bring change is insulting to the intelligence of audiences and completely contradicts the symbolism this is meant to exude.

And just so you know, the money raised from the text messages (to win tickets here in the UK @ £1.50 each) is going to the Prince's Trust (as compensation for Live 8 replacing their traditional fundraising concert, Party in the Park), and the rest will cover Live 8 administration costs.

I'm a believer in the power of each person making the world a better place. I work in the charitable sector and believe in the contributions of people to particular projects making a difference to African lives - water, food, shelter, education that charities bring to the man on the ground. I don't believe that cancelling this debt will make a difference to the everyday poverty that Africa faces. If the musicians were as concerned about debt as they claim to be why not give a couple of millions pounds each to a cause rather than blather on about the responsibility of givernments? Charity begins from your own pocket, your own time.

I admit that right now I'm flipping between Venus Williams winning Wimbledon on BBC2 and Travis singing on BBC1 - never say no to some great free music. I wear the 'Make poverty history' wristband because I believe that my £1 is my contribution to the cause of Africa, not a contribution to the cancellation of debt.

I insist: I'm not a sceptic, just a realist.


  1. See the movie 'The girl in the cafe'. Its a low-bugdet movie set in the backdrop of a G8 meeting. Sorry, off-topic comment

  2. Watched it. It was on TV here in the UK last week. What did you think?