We've recently been asked what we think about Geldof's Live8 and the general issue of Africa, Aid & Debt Relief. These are huge areas and brief answers will always be inadequate. However, we will try to respond as briefly as possible.

Firstly, anything which moves this glorious continent toward debt free existence should not be knocked gratuitously, after all, Africa really needs all the help she can get. We fully support the principals of the 'Make Poverty History' campaign and are pleased to see Gordon Brown doing so much to champion African poverty. Equally however, Africa cannot be generalised about, especially in terms of development as the continent is huge and incredibly diverse. If you've not travelled to more than a handful of countries you can never fully grasp the diversity of this beautiful land!

We've read many criticisms of Live8, some we agree with and some are rubbish. A good example of the latter is W. F. Deedes in the Daily Telegraph who is anti Geldof et al as he feels that Africa's problems have two-fold roots; corruption and arms expenditure. However, such dismissal of the efforts of Geldof et al represents naivety at best and bigoted ignorance at worst. On the other hand, Tom Eaton in the South African 'Mail & Guardian' said:

"..perhaps my unease with Geldof, Tinkerbell and Jimmny Cricket and all the other public figures who step out of private jets to read their anti-poverty statements is based on the creeping suspicion that they don't have the faintest idea what they're talking about.

Yes, they've been to Africa, and they've seen poverty, stepped in it, and scraped it off their Nikes. But have they understood it? How can they, when the European Union defines poverty as living on 60% of the average income of one's country? What kind of coked-up hyper-bourgeois Eurotrash thinks that earning [Rand]16 000 a month -60% of the average income of Liechtenstein- has anything in common with being poverty-stricken? Do Swiss who earn R10 200 a month loll hopelessly in tent camps, rationing their Riesling and Camembert, as they ponder the hell of living below Switzerland's EU-defined poverty line? These people really need to get out more."[1]

We'll probably revisit this issue as we don't want to pontificate too much in one go. Our closing comment here is best left to an SMS currently doing the rounds which we received from Dean's brother, it's a limerick and goes as follows:

There was a campaigner called Ure

Who'll raise millions for charity sure,

But with figures of hate,

Like Sting at Live8,

The line up's like Africa: poor.

Somewhat in poor taste but hey, much of what passes for constructive comment on Africa is exactly that.

[1] Eaton, T. 2005. Mail & Guardian 17.06.05 p19


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