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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thanks, Bob Geldof 

In honour of the Live 8 concerts this weekend, we watched History Television's Turning Point tonight, which was about the Ethiopian famine of 1984 and the Band Aid and Live Aid events which Bob Geldof invented. Though a depressing subject, it was ultimately a story of success and achievement.
It never made sense to me, as a child, to be told that I had to eat up because people somewhere else were starving -- my reaction was, OK, then please send them my corn soup because I hate it.
When I was a child, and on into adulthood through the 60s and 70s, the general attitude among just about everybody I knew was that conditions in Africa were simply not solveable. The only people who seemed to care about Africa were some aid agencies and church ministers. We watched the clumsy "teach a man to fish" public service spots on TV at midnight, but they didn't seem to relate to our lives. Basically, there didn't seem to be anything that we could do about it except give a few bucks to Oxfam every now and then. In the 60s, we thought we were all changing the world, but we weren't really having much effect.
Those attitudes changed when Geldof did his record and his concerts.
It was unheard of in 1984 that a rock musician should care so much about Africa, and that he should be able to organize such extraordinary events, and that he could singlehandedly raise so much money. Now, its almost unheard of that musicians and artists would not devote some of their time and talent to fundraising for various causes.
In the interviews for the TV show we watched tonight, Geldof displayed a broad and deep knowledge of what is necessary to help Africa and what the world needs to do about it. Not only has he raised hundreds of millions, but he also has made sure it is being spent properly, and directly on aid projects.
I am impressed, too, that the United States is also showing some leadership here -- Bush seeks to double aid to Africa . The attitude I grew up with -- that Africa is hopeless -- is no longer an acceptable approach for anyone in the west to take -- and that is remarkable progress.

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