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05 juillet 2005

Africa Calling 2005 reviews-Introduction-


Live 8 - Africa Calling 2005

reviews 05-07-05

What a venue to hold an event such as this. In fact it has to rate as one of the best venues in the world and in this idyllic setting of environmental transformation 5,000 of us gathered to watch the only line up of all the Live 8 events outside of Africa to be showcasing the music of the continent, celebrating Africa as well as highlighting her problems. With two stages Eden was able to offer the same number of acts who could play longer sets.

I’d suspect we were the only one of the live events who had campaign stalls (make poverty history, amnesty international, control arms, send a cow, Oxfam, Wateraid, (Intermediate Technology Development Group, Uneeka, Christian Aid, Co-Op, Traidcraft and Dandaro Cylch) in any numbers, rather than burger bars and enough space to dance and no queues for the toilets.

Here the majority of those in the audience (of all ethnic persuasions I may add) were there acutely aware of the problems Africa faces rather than arriving merely to celebrate the music and celebrity of the Hyde Park event. Dare I say this was the real deal, rather than a bunch of music lovers listening to 15 minute greatest hit sets. Worryingly many of the press I overheard around the site appeared to not be there for the right reasons, many not looking forward to the day and moaning about how far they were from London! Shocking!

Press Call

Which leads me to the press call. Peter Gabriel, co-founder of the World Organisation of Music and Dance (WOMAD) and Tim Smit (founder of The Eden Project) introduced four African artists - Chartwell Dutiro, Mariza, Geoffrey Oryema and Emmanuel Jal. The media briefly asked if the artists were disappointed that more African music was not on the stage at Hyde Park. The artists all replied that they were a little disappointed, but hoped that Live 8 would still bring Africa’s problems to global attention in a celebratory way.

In answer to what effect all the events happening for Live 8 would have on Africa’s problems they emphasised that it is important that people are not just entertained for a day, and then move on and forget about Africa, but that instead pressure for change in Africa is still on going after Live 8.

Voice of Africa Radio asked where they thought Africa would be 20 years from this big day. What a shame it would be if a further event like this would be needed still twenty years on. The artists all placed the blame for the continuing crisis in Africa squarely with corrupt African leaders, the banks and the multinational companies that support them.

They challenged the media to report what is going on in Africa now, to actually go there and see first hand what they are writing about. Rather than 20 year old images of starving children in famine, it was today more a case of AIDs pandemics, malaria, wars, genocide and greed. Have to say that most of the media bristled at this and from what I saw of the media most are pretty much immune to any concerns of Africa as far as I could see.

The organisers and artists of Africa Calling said their main appeal to the world leaders of the G8 would be for them to put pressure on African leaders to end corruption and dictatorships by supporting the International Criminal Court. Rather than an appeal for money which with it being Live 8 many people confused this issue for because of the event to help Ethiopia 20 years ago.
Towards the end of the conference we were introduced to a lady who would actually speak at the G8 and would be presenting our case before the most powerful men in the World. It was reassuring to see her determination, to see she had such passion for the cause and that the message we were supporting today would get through.

The weather was brightening slightly as we wandered down through the lush vegetation to the main stage area. But it was still being put together feverishly so we wandered into the biomes to walk amongst huge banana trees in sweltering humidity and listen to African music from speakers hidden in the giant tropical undergrowth.

Finally 1pm rolled around and they let us into the arena and shortly afterward Peter Gabriel and Johnny Kalsi appear before a crowd representing a diverse mix of ethnicity, age and social background to welcome the first act.

review by Scott Williams

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