ME and Ophelia

Monday, June 07, 2004

Live Aid's 20th Anniversary in 2005

Given that a top UN official states the tragedy in Darfur is "entirely man made", this is a continuation of my post that questions who is responsible - and puts the spotlight on the Heads of Sudan, EU, UN and charities that funds in the name of Africa.

A few days ago, Passion of the Present posted this little gem:

"A letter in today's Guardian: In the mid-1980s Bob Geldof and the world's media descended on Darfur with Live Aid during the Sahel famine. After meeting us aid workers, he left his jacket behind, so with his secretary's permission, I kept it as a memento. Can readers suggest how this relic of St Bob can best be used to draw attention to the fact that 350,000 people will die in Darfur in the absence of firmer and more urgent international action? Do I burn it in protest, auction it or send shreds of it to politicians? - Peter Verney, Hebden Bridge, Yorks."
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Here is my suggestion, in response to their question "What to do with a celebrity jacket?" -

A shred of Bob Geldof's jacket could be sent with letters addressed to each of those responsible for the tragedy in Darfur. One could:

(1) Obtain the jacket, left by Bob Geldof during his Live Aid visit to Darfur 20 years ago, and cut it into as many pieces possible.
(2) Identify names and addresses of those responsible for the tragedy in Darfur, ie Heads of Sudan, EU, UN and main charities raising funds in the name of Africa.
(3) Draft a letter*
(4) Personalise and print out one letter to each addressee.
(5) On each letter, affix a shred of the jacket.
(6) Fold each letter into a window envelope.
(7) Affix postage and mail letters by recorded post/registered delivery (requiring acceptance signature) well before Live Aid's 20th Anniversary (July 15, 2005) to maximise publicity.
(8) If necessary, set up a PayPal account that will accept donations as low as $1 to cover printing and mailing (surplus could be donated to the Band Aid Charitable Trust).

Note: Irish blogger Gavin Sheridan wrote a superb post on the Sudan crisis saying that the "blogging community should be behind the action - 100%". Gavin is a professional journalist (and a darling) with connections in England and Ireland who may be willing to help by contacting Bono and Bob Geldof for an endorsement of the jacket/letter. If not, I can try contacting someone I know. I'd be happy to help in any way that I can. Any feedback to Passion of the Present on what to do with the celebrity jacket, or any other ideas, suggestions or comments would be gratefully received.

*Letter could help address issues raised by Bono last Tuesday at a conference on EU development (details posted here last week) where he spoke, quote: "...most EU states had reneged on a long-standing promise to commit 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product to overseas aid. EU-run aid programs had dragged their heels. There's about $14 billion that people have pledged to the EU, but the EU haven't found a way of spending it."
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But do we have the will?

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters): On Monday Irish rock star and political activist Bono urged Western governments to fight poverty, AIDS and debt in Africa because that was cheaper than combating terrorism that may breed in such conditions.

In a speech to new graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, the U2 singer said developed countries have the financial and technological ability to alleviate conditions that lead to the deaths of 7,000 people a day in Africa from preventable diseases.

The singer's support for Africa and other developing-world causes ranges from the Live Aid rock concert in 1985 to a World AIDS Day 2003 concert in South Africa. He has lobbied Congress and appealed to world leaders to back humanitarian efforts.

After being presented with an honorary doctorate of laws from the university for his work on African issues, he called on graduates to use their Ivy League educations to help.

The failure of rich nations to help solve Africa's problems has historical parallels with slavery and racial segregation, Bono said on the 50th anniversary of the U.S. court case that officially ended segregation in schools.

Those conventions were accepted norms until overthrown by those with the courage to challenge them, he said.

"If you want to save the age, betray it," he said, quoting the Irish poet Brendan Keneally. "Expose its conceits, foibles and phony moral certitudes."

"For the first time in history we have the cash and the technological know-how" to solve Africa's problems, he said. "But do we have the will?"

Further reading: The One and news on The One Campaign.
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Open letter to the Prime Minister of Canada

Note this copy of an Open Letter dated May 11, 2004, to Mr Paul Martin, the Prime Minister of Canada: "Don't let Sudan become the next Rwanda"

[Source courtesy of The Horn of Africa]
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Live Aid - the greatest show on earth: July 13, 1985

Live Aid , the greatest show on earth, was the biggest benefit concert in history. On July 15, 1985, it took place simultaneously in two separate stadiums in the USA and the UK: Wembley Stadium, London and JFK Stadium, Philadelphia.

70,000 people packed Wembley Stadium in London for a concert that was watched on screens by 1.4 billion people in over 170 countries worldwide. Many of the top contemporary rock music acts played some of their most popular songs to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

Tens of millions of pounds (figures are unclear, I am still googling for accurate info) were raised for famine relief. It was the most cash raised for charity by a single event and was used to fund projects in Mozambique, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, the Sudan and Ethiopia. Apparently the people of Bermuda were the most generous of all, giving the equivalent of £1.50 per person.

According to an unofficial Live Aid website: "Band Aid and Live Aid were never intended to become permanent institutions; once the money was spent, the offices were closed and any further donations were handled by The Band Aid Charitable Trust.

People felt they could do something - they were empowered by Geldof's crusade for justice for those stricken by drought and civil war in Ethiopia. Nobody was so naive as to suggest that this money would solve the problem, but at least, by giving money, people took an interest in what was happening in the rest of the world."

Further reading: Live Aid F.A.Q. and Donor Fatigue - Ethiopia plans 'Live Aid'
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Looking back at Live Aid's 10th Anniversary in 1995

In April 1995, on the 10th anniversary of Live Aid, Bob Geldof was quoted as saying:

"Live Aid became the focus of everyone's frustration and anger and shame. Very quickly, it became a sort of phenomenon."

"It had to be the biggest show ever, I was aware of that. It was entertainment but it was for an almost Biblical Disaster. Maybe for the first time since Man left the African Rift Valley we began to talk in a common language, and that language, bizarrely, turned out to be pop music."
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In 1995, to mark the 10th anniversary of Live Aid, the following charities gave these reactions and updates:

OXFAM - "Ten years on we have peace and a fledgling democracy in Ethiopia. These are great assets. But desperate poverty remains. The population continues to increase by more than 1.5 million a year. The gap between food needs and food production is still growing. The rate of deforestation exceeds all planting efforts. If these issues are to be addressed, Ethiopia will need: the efforts of all its people; sound government policies; and continuing international support."

CAFOD - "Ethiopia's greatest natural resource is its people. They are creative, ingenious, hard-working and keen to build a secure future for themselves. Over the past ten years CAFOD has invested in this resource with skills training programmes, making people more self-sufficent. In Tigray, one of the areas worst affected by the famine, CAFOD has funded the training of 'barefoot vets', health workers and mechanics, and helped develop new skills with women and street children. We are helping to build a training school at Adwa, a remote area of Tigray that was neglected during 17 years of war."

UNICEF - "The people of Ethiopia have been living under emergency conditions for close to twenty years. Life is especially harsh for people in the countryside - the majority of the population. Children and women are particularly affected. For every 1000 babies born, 120 will die before the age of five. Women struggle to cope with sporadic food shortages and the lack of proper health care."

Save the Children Fund - "Ten years on from Live Aid, much has been achieved. Since 1991, Ethiopia has been at peace for the first time in two decades. Better early warning systems have been developed by Save the Children and other agencies - to forecast famine, and more roads have been built to distribute aid. The Ethiopian government has itself taken measures to avert famine. Yet, despite these gains, donors have been reluctant to commit themselves to Ethiopia's future development. As a result, the lives of millions of Ethiopians continue to rest precariously on the thin line between survival and catastrophe."

ACTIONAID - "Poor communities in Ethiopia continue to face hungry seasons. Erratic rainfall and environmental degradation challenge agricultural production while the majority of farmers cannot afford materials for the next planting season. Yet a small loan, for fertiliser or an ox, could make a difference. ACTIONAID's saving and credit schemes provide loans to Ethiopian farmers while other long-term programmes are improving clean water, education and health care."

Christian Aid - "Ten years on from Live Aid, Christian Aid is still there, supporting the efforts of Ethiopians in their struggle for better lives. Thousands of hectares have been terraced to catch rainfall, new dams and wells are providing clean water and simple technologies - such as grinding mills - are making a huge difference to the lives of many families. In ten years time, Ethiopians may be able to be self-sufficent. Until then they need all the help we can give."

[Note, apologies for not crediting source of above information - trying to find website - for now, I'm guessing it is F.A.Q or Live Aid]

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/07/2004
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