Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Live Aid? Please!

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The latest buzz over G8, Commissions For Africa, Live 8 and all the latest catch phrases leave me decidedly amused. I for one am deeply sceptical that all this fresh hubbub of the latest fashionable buzz words, taking over from "War On Terror", "Globalization" and "Peace Accord" are nothing but unadulterated, politically correct, sanctimonious hot air.

I am frequently puzzled with references in the press to a mysterious "famous rock star" rejoicing under the name Bob Geldof, closely associated with this new set of buzz words. If he is so famous just how many of us would turn and point him out to our brethren if we saw him in the street. How is he famous? Who can spell Geldof? Quick, when did he last release a rock hit?
What's his latest CD called? Name one song this illustrious rock star has done.

Bob is under the fond impression that if he organizes a concert in Scotland, manna, kebabs and fruit juice will descend from the heavens to fill the bellies of millions of starving Africans. Winged warriors will dispatch dictators and despots into the outer darkness where they can weep and gnash their gold teeth. Farmers will earn dollars from their produce rather than the cents they currently earn.

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".

Eager to chip into the latest mass conscience message are Hollywood's biggest and brightest stars and starlets. Apparently the ilk of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney and their fellows leading ladies and gents were suddenly so overwhelmed by the plight of the poor that they actually wrote letters to the G8 nuclei. I was not party to the correspondence but I suspect most of it went like this:

Dear G8 guys,

Please please please reduce poverty in A free car Afrikka Africka Afrika

[Star Name Here]

The Coca Cola company trademarked the distinctive shape of their bottle. So should Tony Blair with his toothy grin. I have no doubt that said grin would be produced even if a passing albatross deposited a considerable load of guano on his head. Realizing that his role of George's unwitting puppy dog was costing him at Downing Street as well as Down His Street, he cottoned on to something that he felt sure would earn him marks far and wide.

And so the Commission For Africa© was born.

Its vision, mission and modus operandi are simplicity in itself -- make poverty and bad governance in Africa disappear by making poverty and bad governance disappear. Some of the presidential members of his board, who will remain unnamed, arrived late having missed their flights from the Continent because of being held up to attend to the pressing business of jailing errant opposition members.

Of course the elections were held and good old Tony got in by the skin of his grinning teeth and now he is on more pressing matters like bans on fox hunting and how best to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar.

It is laughable for anyone to take these latest initiatives with anything but amusement. The reality of the matter is that these latest buzzwords are a desperate attempt of a world that has grown decidedly weary of Iraq, Afghanistan, wars on terror and Middle East Peace Accords to find another avenue to massage its collective conscience and feel good about itself, basking in the warm glow associated with selfless charity.

Rosy pictures of children in Darfur gratefully accepting food from their benevolent benefactors sends little ecstatic shivers up and down suited forms. The thought of influencing millions of lives using their stardom leaves the constituents of the Hollywood constellation giddy with glee.

Personally I find it laughable watching a knighted man with a good dinner in his belly and the remnants of the said dinner at his elbow addressing the press from a plush, six star hotel in his passionate and very genuine belief that he can strike the blow that will end world poverty.

I find it even more ludicrous to see grinning Prime Ministers, treating us to displays of constellations of 76 assorted incisors, canines, molars, premolars and post molars, shaking hands before flashing bulbs while bemoaning the proliferation of small and large arms in Africa after just coming from superintending loading of consignments of machine pistols, rifles and land mines to Somalia, Sudan and Congo (via DHL of course).

Meaningless concerts and laughable commissions are not going to fight any poverty. Even dubiously benevolent concessions like debt cancellation are meaningless in themselves. It is utterly meaningless to cancel my debt if you do not allow me to earn money. Let us both compete fairly on the International market. Your farmers are already enjoying considerable technological advantages -- they do not need subsidies. Don't wax lyrical about debt relief if without avenues for me earning my own money I shall promptly be in debt again.

The quicker leaders of poor nations that appear begging in 6 door Mercedes limousines are thrown out smartly on their ears the sooner they will learn from the school of hard knocks that they have to live within their means. If they do not their populace should consign them to obscurity at the next elections. And if they have dipped into the till a few years stretching
out at a prison bunk ought to work wonders for the attitudes of those following in their footsteps.

So the concert will be held. Fun will be had. Alcohol will be consumed. People will do what they do on the Discovery channel. Millions will the raised. By the time the morning milk sounds in Irish doorways hangover revellers will have forgotten what the joyous rapture was in aid of. By the time the advertising companies, the equipment providers, the caterers, the security companies, the travel agencies, the hotels and the innumerable NGOs take their cut a few thousand pounds will be left that will be smugly handed over to Oxfam or other such agency, ostensibly to alleviate poverty and hunger in Africa. By the time administrative costs and taxes have been deducted, one medium sized MacDonald burger will be winging its determined was Africa-wise, and another Asia-wise to alleviate world hunger.

No, I am not holding my breath. The solution will not come from Live Aid or from G8. It will come from Africans who will finally refuse to accept the nonsense they are subjected to by their asinine leadership and throw the lot of the useless cretins out.

It will come from Africans who will put their skills and abilities to use for their countries.

It will come from Africans who will refuse to acknowledge the empty gestures from Europe and America, whose only concern is how best to plunder the continent of its resources and people without ruffling too many feathers and upsetting too many of their taxpayers.

It will not, repeat NOT come from Bob Geldof and Tony Blair or any other two faced, ostensibly benevolent big brothers who shed crocodile tears and conveniently ignore the fact that they spend as much on dog food than on their goodwill "aid".

It will not come from Brad Pitt, George Clooney or indeed anyone attention hungry starlette whose only knowledge of Africa is that the people there speak a mysterious language called 'African', live on trees and swing from branch to branch clad in leopard skins while bellowing to each other.

More discussion of

The only people who can solve Africa's problems are Africans.

Follow up: Get Real: Global Politics 101 & Live 8

Anyone care to tell me how the proliferation of "Make Poverty History" arm bands, website banners, mugs, pantyhose etc. are meaningfully affecting the price of tomatoes, aside from giving the wearers a nice warm glow?


Someone's been eating my porridge!

President Mwai Kibaki suspiciously eyes Secretary General of the Asian and African Legal Consultative Organisation

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