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Roundup: Africans on Live 8

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Breaking News

Our friends at tag [1] their posts so Technorati can track the conversation.

We thought we'd oblige by rounding up some of the African and Afrophile voices discussing Live 8… critical and skeptical voices as well as supportive and optimistic ones. We'll be continuing this roundup for the next few days – if we missed you, please let us know in the comments on this post so we can include you in the next edition.

We'd also like to urge our readers – and especially our African readers – to let us know what you think about Live 8, whether you think it's a noble effort or misguided and patronizing. As you'll see below, bloggers in Africa haven't been shy about sharing their opinions.

The Kenyan blogger behind Thinker's Room isn't just skeptical about Live 8 – he's skeptical about Bob Geldolf, wondering if anyone could pick him out of a city crowd or name his latest CD. In his post “Live Aid? Please!”, Thinker raises two major concerns about the concert: Will it have any impact? and Where are the Africans?

If a concert in Africa would have me sceptical, words cannot describe just how I fail to see how the remotest benefit a 1 million strong concert in Edinburgh will be derived by a poor fisherman in Lamu. I don't see how one million partygoers will contribute to the filling of stomachs in Darfur, or a reduction of the gunfire. This concert, oddly enough, does not seem to have any African musicians performing aside from the good old token Yossou N'dour, something that will no doubt soon be hastily corrected and laughed off as a “technical oversight”.

Sokari Ekine of Black Looks weighs in with a roundup of Live 8 skepticism in a post titled “Live 8419″. The title is a shout out to Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie of AFFORD, writing in Pambazuka, who proposes a festival to celebrate the aid Africa gives the North: natural resources at fire-sale prices, skilled health professionals who leave Africa to work abroad, and a market for subsidized agricultural goods:

With leading African artists relegated to performing in village somewhere in Cornwall on 2 July we thought it important – some 11 years after apartheid was finally defeated – for African performers to have a presence in London on that day. The excitement will not stop there as African performers at Live8419 will for the first time ever perform the hit song, “Do they know it’s summertime?” written by AFFORD to raise more African aid for Britain. This world exclusive will undoubtedly set the media world alight.

(For those who missed the reference, “Live8419″ adds “Live 8″ to “419”, the section of the Nigerian penal code that concerns mail and wire fraud. In other words, if someone asks you for your bank account information so they can send you a ticket to Live8419, just say no. :-)

Gerald Caplan, also writing in Pambazuka, worries that events like Live 8 paint a picture of Africa as helpless, wracked by natural disaster and in desparate need of northern aid. These views, he argues, distract us from the role the North has had in creating Africa's problems:

These views reflect a common theme: they leave the rich world blameless for Africa's multitude of problems. I greatly fear that Live 8 is inadvertently strengthening the notion that we in the rich world must be missionaries to save Africans from themselves. The truth is already being lost– the deep, comprehensive responsibility of western nations and western financial institutions for so much of Africa's continuing underdevelopment and poverty.

Ethiopundit wishes Live 8 focused more on legitimate governments and fair elections as it did on aid:

“Frankly, what is really needed is the encouragement of the development of the INSTITUTIONS of democracy and the free market in Africa. A concert message to respect the results of the recent election in Ethiopia would have far more meaning and relevance to the world.”

But s/he's at least as concerned about Sir Bob's decision to leave the Spice Girls off the program in favor of more “serious” artists like Destiny's Child, Duran Duran and A-ha, titling his post “Geldolf vs. Girl Power”.

Linking to the BBC article “Do Ghanaians Care about Live 8?”, Aderemi wonders whether the concert fills a need:

I continue to be an optimist about the economic prospects of Africa over the next 10years because I feel a real sense of Africans trying to move things forward. However, I find it hard to understand why African artists are not featured on Live 8, the apparent suggestion that Live 8 organisers want “to keep the millions of eyes around the world glued to the television and [he] felt if it was some remote part of China or Latin America if it was an unknown artist … people might switch off”. Do we really need a concert to tell the world that Africa is poor? I doubt it.

While many African bloggers are skeptical about Live 8's goals, execution or both, a few are optimists. Tunisian blogger Subzero Blue and Afrophile blogger Black River Eagle both point to the Technorati tagging effort. Blogging from Germany, Black River Eagle has some insights on the aparent apathy surrounding the Berlin Live 8 concert:

There may not even be a Berlin Live8 Concert if this June 24th article from Reuters news service is correct ” Lack of German Live8 sponsors a disgrace”. Even Deutsche Welle is pissed off about the German business community and the German government's lack of support for the concert in their article titled “Live8 Organizers Lash Out at Berlin Apathy”. I don't understand why anyone is surprised. After all, the German government's Finance Minister Hans Eichel heldout until the last minute on the recent African Debt Relief negotiations and then the politically embattled German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made a TV appearance claiming he was for the African Debt Relief deal all along.

Kenyan blogger Gitush is cautiously hopeful that the concerts can bring international attention to issues effecting the continent:

If these concerts attract as much attention as the organizers hope (something like 2 million attending and 2 billion watching) it could serve to bring attention to very important issues affecting the world and Africa in particular, with speacial attention to the debt crisis. However, my greatest concern is that folks will simply ignore the calls for action, suffering from what some call: “Donor fatigue”. But I wish them all the best, it is a worthy cause.