Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Saturday, July 02, 2005
Live 8 wrap
Update 5: I'm not the only one who hated MTV's coverage. Next time just show the performances, guys.

Update 4: You'll never guess who headlined the Moscow Live 8 concerts... From the BBC: Bob Geldof reports himself pleased with the outcome of Live 8, though the attendance figures in some countries (just 50,000 out of a hoped-for 1 million in Italy, 35,000 in Ontario and just 8,000 in Johannesburg, South Africa, seem to vindicate his contention that to draw big crowds, its better to have big names than indegenous acts... Geldof did give in to critics and throw a concert with African acts in London, which drew about 5,000 people. Money quote:

"I'm sure they all went to see Pink Floyd in London," said Cesare Cremonini, one of the stars at the Rome concert
The Washington Post posts a much needed reality check after the whirlwind Live 8 weekend:

On the world's poorest continent, however, feelings about debt relief and aid money are far more nuanced than many Westerners may realize. Africans interviewed this week, from farmers to artists to health workers, say they are grateful for the outpouring of sentiment, and glad to hear that glamorous musicians and actors are championing their cause and that college students are wearing bracelets with the slogan, "Make Poverty History."


But they also said there was a dangerous disconnect between what the industrialized nations see as solutions and what Africans believe they need. Instead of debt relief and more aid, many Africans said they wanted the G-8 to focus on ending corruption and on improving roads, courts, banking and secondary education.


Another useful step, many Africans said, would be to end Western countries' trade subsidies for their own farmers, which make it impossible for African industries to do much more than survive. Debt relief, some asserted, is actually hush money to get free trade advocates off the backs of European countries, the United States and Japan, which offer huge subsidies to their corn, cattle and cotton farmers and thus undercut African farmers' ability to enter the market.


At the end of the day rooting out corruption across the continent will be an even more ominous task than "dropping the debt" or even tackling famine and AIDS, because many people in Africa believe -- based on experience -- that whatever aid flows Africa's way generally flows right into the hands of corrupt government officials. Ever read anything about Equatorial Guinea, the Congo or Niger, or ever heard of the book "Confessions of an economic hit-man?" If you do read up, you'll get a taste of what the noxious combination of oil, global apathy and free-flowing foreign debt has done to warp the continent of Africa.

And as long as richer countries protect their own goods from those of developed nations -- agricultral products especially -- most African countries and other third world nations simply can't compete. It's a dillemma, since protecting home industries is key to any country's prosperity (though I've never been a fan of farm subsidies). African countries have to find a niche that they can fill, otherwise, the countries with oil, like Nigeria and Guinea, will continue to fester with corruptions as energy-needy nations like the U.S. and China look the other way while they fleece their people, and the others will simply contine to be ignored, while leaders use food and tribal war as ways to control the population and disguise their own incompetance and corruption.

That's not to put a damper on Live 8, which was an inspiring event, and not quite the sham some are making it out to be. But at the end of the day, star power can only accomplish so much. Much of what Africa has to do to right itself, it has to do on its own.

(Ed. note: the blogger's father is a native of, and continues to live in, the Democratic Republic of Congo.)

Update 3: Need to take some time to think about it, and to try and catch some of the missed performances on the MTV reruns, but all in all, I think it was a pretty good show. Biggest gripe: Too much chatter by the veejays and not enough full airing of the performances. They showed about 30 seconds of Joss Stone. How cold is that?

Update 2: Jay Z came really close to breaking the Gelof ban on Bush bashing, telling the 1 million -strong Philly crowd that (paraphrasing) "we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people, so why can't we spend billions of dollars to save people." The lead rapper from Linkin' Park seconded the comment. Ouch.

Update: BET gets the big thumbs-down for not simulcasting the concert like its sister stations, MTV and VH1. If the Black Entertainment Channel can't be bothererd with Africa, who can? It can't be about the "white lineup" -- Bob Johnson and company could have simply simulcast the Philly concert, which includes everyone from Jay Z to Kanye West. Shame on you, BET.

-------------

3:40 p.m.: Live 8 is on ...and pretty good so far. Some links: MTV's Live 8 page, Live8 homepage. Another good link: the One campaign. Also here's a link to BBC coverage.

As I've said before, I disagree with those who dismiss the concert as pointless, Geldofian "ageing white rocker" do-gooderism. It's undeniable that Africa's problems won't be solved by a single concert series or a momentary publicity push, but it's equally undeniable that Geldof, Bono and the other acts who participated today (including some Black acts like Jay Z) have their hearts in the right place. Africa desperately needs the attention -- it might be the only way to shame rich countries into untangling the continent from its nightmare of mineral-soaked debt. And seeing crowds of people of all races rocking together in cities all over the world ain't bad for this Fourth of July weekend.

I say put the band-race issues aside. This concert is a good thing.

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posted by JReid @ 11:21 PM  
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