Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

The Greatest Show On Earth...

Band Aid Raises £50m For Africa

"In an unprecedented outbreak of human goodness, rockers, rollers and ravers on both sides of the Atlantic last night raised more than £25m (£50m at the time of going to press) for the starving of Africa" observed Stephen Pile of the Sunday Times.

Last Saturday's pop-rock concert staged in Wembley and JFK stadium in Philadelphia, with an estimated crowd of 72,000 and 90,000 respectively was billed as "the greatest show on earth" and according to reports lived up to expectation.

Global Jukebox entertainment extravaganza dreamed up and brought to reality by Bob Geldof who also raised £8 million last December through the sale of a record made by a galaxy of British artists, linked 52 performers in Britain and America and the Soviet Union.

The concerts were beamed by 14 national satellites to 500 million television sets and an estimated audience of 1.5 billion in 165 countries. The American concert raised $50 million.

The show was opened at the Wembley Stadium by Prince Charles and Princess Diana and kicked off by Status Quo, who played one of the best loved rock anthems "Rocking all over the world". Bob Geldof and his group "The Boom Town Rats" also played some of their best known numbers.

The superstars who participated in the show free of charge included Paul McCartney, Elton John, David Bowie, The Who (specially reformed for the occasion) Bob Dylan, Madonna, Santana, Phil Collins (who performed both in Wembley and Philadelphia), Mick Jagger and Tina Turner.

Bob Geldof, the man at the centre of the fund-raising epic, said after the concert "our concerts were trying to keep the starving alive. Now let's give them life". According to Mr Phillip Rusted Live Aid's Chartered Accountant: "a budget will be formulated which will relate to the demands of the relief agencies in the future field in Ethiopia, Sudan and sub-Sahara".

According to the dailies, Bob Geldof has been nominated for the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize by Mr Sisel Roenbeck, a Norwegian MP. Mr Roenbeck has written to the Nobel Institute that apart from bringing together millions of people to help famine victims, Geldof "has also mobilised future adults to realise the motto for the United Nations International Youth Year participation, development and peace.

The Daily Mirror commented: Some governments were slow to act (on the famine relief programme). Others did nothing at all. And those who did help had obstructions placed in their way by the government of Ethiopia itself. Live Aid rose above governments. It was a declaration by young people everywhere that something had to be done.

Not every commentator on the event, however, saw it in purely philanthropic light. Observed Mark Lewis in an article "We are the World; you are the Third World" in The Guardian recalling the lyrics of USA for Africa song. "What is necessarily disavowed but also revealed in the words "We are the world" is the role of colonial history and present day imperialism in precipitating many current African crises. For the "world" that is elided here is the word of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the programmes of Western defence and the world markets that dictate the prices and availability of crops - now and in the "generosity" as many have done in to speak of Western raising some £50 million for Third World countries currently going bankrupt attempting to repay the tens of billions of dollars that they owe to the US and its corporate allies, is a strange use of language...

talking drums 1985-07-22 the cia in ghana behind the scranage-sousoudis affair