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03 juillet 2005

England show brings out African voices

AP Photo/LEFTERIS PITARAKIS Dido and Youssou N'Dour perform at the Live 8 concert in Hyde Park, London, Saturday July 2, 2005. The concert is part of a series of free concerts being held around the world designed to press leaders of the rich G8 countries to help impoverished African nations.


ST. AUSTELL, England (AP) - Top African musicians who have spent their lives fighting for change in Africa brought their music to the worldwide Live 8 audience on Saturday.

Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour was headlining the bill, which featured more than 18 acts from 14 countries, including Beninoise diva Angelique Kidjo, a three-time Grammy nominee.

Host and co-organizer Peter Gabriel said it was possibly the best African lineup to perform outside the continent. "You can see how civilized people are by where they put the boundary between 'them' and 'us'. Hopefully today we can push that line back so that 'us' becomes a much bigger category," Gabriel told reporters before the concert.

Thousands danced to African rhythms outside the world's largest greenhouse on the floor of a lush green crater in St. Austell in the southwestern region of Cornwall. Organizers expected the concert to draw about 5,000.

The "Africa Calling" concert near the Eden Project and the Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, were organized after criticism that African artists had been largely excluded from global music marathon aimed at raising awareness of Africa's poverty.

The other concerts being held Saturday were in London and in the other countries that make up the Group of Eight major industrial nations - the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia.

Thomas Mapfumo, whose songs became anthems for Zimbabwe's independence movement in 1980 but who has been banned by state radio and forced into exile in the United States, provided an early highlight. He celebrated his 60th birthday swinging his hips to bongo beats and shimmering guitars.

"We have to do away with dictatorships. Help to do away with dictatorships," he said after criticizing Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's latest so-called urban renewal drive for leaving tens of thousands homeless. He closed his set with a song rejoicing at the death of a dictator.

Angelina Jolie, accompanied by her son Maddox, was among the movie stars at the concert.
"With all that we have in the world, we can fix what is happening in Africa, we can save lives, we can turn it around," Jolie told reporters.

But concerts are only a step in addressing Africa's problems, said performer Emmanuel Jal, who was a former child soldier in his native Sudan before he escaped to Kenya at age 11.
"We make a big concert, we entertain people, but what's next?" Jal said. "Because they'll be entertained, but after a while then they'll forget. We need something to follow-up raising that consciousness so that that pressure can be put on the leaders of the G8."

Live 8 organizer Bob Geldof rejected criticism that top African artists had been excluded from the main concert venues Saturday, including London and Philadelphia, arguing that only the biggest-selling names could ensure a global television audience would stay tuned.

N'Dour, who helped organize the "Africa Calling" bill, was set to be Live 8's main African face on Saturday. He was scheduled to perform at three of Saturday's 10 concerts - traveling from London to St. Austell, then to Paris.

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