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« Wars of the World | Main | Hoodie Two Shoes »

July 04, 2005


E Canfor-Dumas

What we also didn't see at the concerts was any mention of the role armed conflict and violence play in creating poverty in Africa, and the role of the G8 in supplying the arms that fuel the violence. Read Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe at opendemocracy for a really good analysis -

John Theaker

The themes that come up for me are:

1) Why did Bob say solving poverty is so simple when we know it isn’t? He isn’t a fool and has been studying it for 20 years. But then again when you saw that beautiful African women on stage – perhaps at that point it was very simple indeed. Who could fail to be moved? Maybe it is simple after all – He is not seeking Nirvana just to have more people like that lady. Perhaps the statement should be “Make Financial Poverty History”.

2) Is Bob and Live8 shouting from outside the wall of mainstream politics or is it now taking part in sophisticated politics itself? Is he seeking to boost Tony Blair’s hand in Edinburgh? Is this all getting very clever? He knows very well that the major decisions at the G8 are almost certainly decided well before the event. He has built up allies in high places – that is for sure – Bill Gates is a useful friend!

3) Is Live8 reigniting the potent mix of real mass issues and powerful emotive “rock” music that underpinned the 60’s and was so well represented by bands such as the Beatles (Paul McCartney), Pink Floyd, The Who, that all have this spirit in their heart and still lead the way in many respects when it comes to the ability to mix music and social cause for a mass (white) audience. Is this why BG didn’t choose African players – because that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t about black musicians – it was about that strange powerful mix of white rock and social activism that has created a vacuous monster called the modern pop industry, but still, when called on, can light the fire in a way that only those kinds of bands ever could. Do we need banners to raise consciousness – I always found they got in the way of seeing the stage! From my own experience radical ideas have to be made “bite sized” if you want to get any where with the mainstream. Try explaining the role of the international monetary creation and banking system in the creation of financial poverty and you will see what I mean. It is enough to make even harden change agents yawn.

4) The absolutely astounding feat of organizing a show on this scale and of this complexity leaves me breathless. In itself this is a powerful cause for human unity. How does it happen? How is it possible to mobilize that amount of media and people in such a short time?

5) The world is in crisis on the environment and poverty and at moments like Live8 you get a glimpse that perhaps there is the global will to solve the problems and that perhaps the politicians better bloody listen and respond and playing their own media manipulation game it is one hell of a strong way of ensuring that if nothing else we are laying down a clear standard for them to follow which will reveal the pathetic excuses and evasions they often come up with. Live8 helps reveal the complete bankruptcy of modern politics – it is an old business model and needs to be discarded. However it isn’t their to promote a new type of social model yet so we have to make do and return to our homes with the knowledge that something could happen but we’re still not sure exactly what longer term solutions there are.

Annabel McGoldrick

Well I was one of the 150,000 people there in Hyde Park...and the event had none of the anger, the power, the determination or the solidarity of 20 February 2003.
I'd felt excited about this event for weeks. Not only was it a chance to see some of the biggest names in rock but I could make a difference, I could look back and say, 'yeah, we woz there - making poverty history - and we did it!'
I'd decided that if we didn't get tickets to the concert we would take the baby for a day out demonstrating in Edinburgh. I still planned going to Scotland too on the Wednesday but the poor little babe was poorly.
On the tube on the way to the concert I saw a women reading her little MakePovertyHistory book - this is it I thought, we will do it, people are coming for the right reasons. But I felt none of that atmosphere herding into Hyde Park. It did just feel like a popular concert. But even that doesn’t sum up the atmosphere. I think because the acts were so diverse people didn’t know the words to the songs. Sadly it all felt a bit flat really. Jake and I were so far back we couldn’t even see the stage. Then the screens were out of sync so it felt a bit screwy trying to sing along when their faces were two beats behind the sound on the speakers.
I too thought it was quite outrageous that BG made it a white event, claiming people would turn off if they put African unknowns on the stage…but we all listen to world music now Bob! Doesn’t he know how famous Hugh Masekela and Youssou N’Dour are? What a missed opportunity to introduce other African stars to the rest of us. I agree totally with Pat and Ind’s point about reciprocity. How can so many African people remain so creative and hopeful often in the face of such adversity? We can learn from them.
But hey I sound really grumpy and ungrateful…some of the biggest names in pop gave up their time to…make a come back…promote their new single…I mean make poverty history!
What I loved about it:
• GREAT MARKETING and clever PR getting Makepovertyhistory and G8 at the top of news bulletins for weeks….clever logos with map of Africa in a guitar or footprint.
• THE VISION THING. Loved the simplicity and clarity of the vision to makepoverty history…yes I’m a complexity girl…but we need to make some concepts bite size to hook people in…get them excited enough to think about the complexity.
• DIALOGUE. People talking about how to really Makepovertyhistory, debt relief, more aid, what about corruption, poor government? There was a real sense, outside the Park, of dialogue, was it the beginning of ‘letting a thousand dialogues bloom’? Is this people talking about and taking responsibility for ‘solutions’.
• CONNECTING THE WORLD. Will Smith clicking his fingers in Philly and us clicking ours in London to symbolize the death of a child from poverty every three seconds.
• GETTING CLOSE. I loved pushing my way forward and actually being able to see on stage some of the later acts, Sting, Robbie, the Who…wow…what a choice of songs!
• THE FAB FIVE. Even despite the out of sync screens Sir Paul singing Sgt Pepper with U2 was quite a moment and Dido with Youssou was just lovely…and Annie Lennox is fab, what a voice!
• ONE LIFE IS WORTH IT. Seeing the young woman who’d survived the Ethiopian famine thanks to Live Aid. I cried during the old pictures from 20 years ago…imagining my son starving was just heart breaking…verging on the pornographic I thought as the shot of the starving child was held for minutes…then she appeared, a survivor of famine, a vision of beauty in white.
• TECHNOLOGY. The magic of mobile phones, then photos downloading a pic of me and the baby to the Edinburgh to be on display as part of the campaign…there in spirit if not in person.
• NON-VIOLENCE. The idea that active, creative non-violence can really make a difference…like it did to slavery, apartheid and woman’s suffrage.

What else I think could be done:
• KEEP IT GOING. More campaigns, more money, more dialogues, more brainstorming…how do we do this??? How do we make creative campaigns to use this ‘dangerous technology’ of mobile phones…yes, email palls, text palls (us and Africans)…yes get those social entrepreneurs onboard.
I have been confused as to why the message on the crawler above the stage said, ‘we don’t want your money, we want you’ but how, what do they want me to do after I’ve sent my text message…how can this work be sustained?
• MICRO CREDIT. How come Mohammed Yunus could by-pass the corrupt politicians and fund thousands of micro projects with micro loans?
• RESEARCH. Wot about the detail and the impact of the trade imbalances are…wot it would cost us…wot profits could we ultimately make from a healthy Africa??? What are the REAL impacts of interventions and policies already underway in Africa?
• EDUCATION …yes…we really could have done with Pink Floyd singing ‘Another brick in the Wall’ for the ultimate education song…but I’d left by then anyway…seriously though, there are a host of education projects, essay writing competitions etc.
• CONNECTIONS. How is poverty in Africa connected to other problems facing us, global warming, migration, conflict, weapons trade…? Then there’s what I buy in the shops…how is that connected with poverty, what wages do the workers who pick my mange tout or coffee get?
I am sure you can think of plenty more ideas.


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