2 July 2005

Live 8 Concert

The concert is the talk of the blogosphere these days, as it should be. It's uplifting to see people doing something positive for change. Most bloggers critiqued the performances while only briefly mentioning the cause. This is understable--these were concerts after all. Personally, I've never been to Africa and must confess shameful ignorance of the continent's problems and prospects. People who have lived and work there are in a better position than me to discuss these problems, and one of the great advantages of blogs is that we run into occasional writers who have experienced a situation first-hand. While reading the Live Eight discussion, I found the following post at My Heart's in Accra titled Africa's a Continent, Not a Crisis particularly thought-provoking.

[Excerpt] Aid dollars don’t eliminate poverty - integration into a global economy does. (South Korea and Ghana had approximately the same per capita income when Ghana gained independence in 1957. South Korea’s income per capita has increased roughly fifteen times in constant dollar terms, while Ghana’s has fallen slightly. You may notice that we buy a great deal more from South Korea than we do from Ghana.) If the goal of Live 8 were to help people see the African continent as a place they want to visit, a place they want to open businesses in, a place they want to engage with, as opposed to a place they want to save, I’d be more likely to share Brian’s hopes.
But that would be a very different concert. It would be one that celebrated the cultural richness of the continent by putting African artists on stage, rather than inviting them - after Geldof was shamed by Peter Gabriel - to perform at a parallel event a hundred miles away from the main action. It would be one that put African leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators on stage, rather than using a silent young Ethiopian woman as a stage prop for Madonna and Geldof. It would be one that was more focused on changing the global image of Africa than on somehow changing the minds of the eight guys sitting around a table in Scotland.


Glen said...

This might surprise you, but I actually support sending government money to help Africa. I see it as good diplomacy. But I really wish this concert would have also allowed and encouraged private giving. The thing about helping Africa though, is you want to help Africans but you sometimes end up helping these corrupt African governments instead. Hopefully in the future, these countries can be involved more in international trade, but those corrupt governments stand in the way.

Karlo said...

I agree that giving the money to corrupt governments (I would add corrupt corporations) won't help. But I did hear the head of Live 8 talking on TV and he did seem to have a vision of helping Africa in a more "teach a man to fish" sort of way.

Glen said...

That's good. Hopefully the G8 countries won't just send a check, but actually take an interest in seeing that the money gets used correctly.