The Guardian 13 July, 2005

Live 8 concerts demand:
"Change, not charity"


More than one million fans jammed into 10 venues across four continents for Live 8, the 24-hour concert extravaganza held on the July 2 weekend. Two billion television viewers were estimated to have tuned in worldwide.

The music marathon was aimed at pressuring world leaders into eradicating African poverty at this week's Group of Eight summit in Scotland.

"For God's sake, take this seriously", said a Live 8 statement, addressing G8 leaders. "Don't behave normally. Don't look for compromises. Be great."

Free concerts were held in London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Rome, Philadelphia, Tokyo, Johannesburg and Toronto.

From rock legends like Pink Floyd, Elton John and REM to African musicians like Senegal's Baobab and South Africa's Mah­otella Queens, a wide-range of artists lent their voices in a global call to "Make Poverty History".

The biggest turnout was in Philadelphia, where up to 500,000 fans turned out on July 4 to see Destiny's Child, Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, P Diddy, Jay-Z and Australian Keith Urban.

In Edinburgh, close to where the G8 meets, 200,000 demonstrators marched through the city to back the Make Poverty History campaign.

Concert organisers said the shows are the starting point for building a lasting movement to demand that rich countries' governments change their policies towards Africa. Demands include doubling aid, cancelling all debt, ending child labour and delivering trade justice for Africa.

In addition to the Make Poverty History rallies and concerts, letter-writing and petition campaigns to the G8 leaders were urged. "We don't want your money, we want your face", the Live 8 web site said.

In a specialised letter to President George W Bush, it said, "One billion people around the world live on less than $1 a day. The US government spends less than 1 percent on overcoming global AIDS and poverty." To sign the letter, go to http://www.one.org.

The talented Live 8 musicians, artists and organisers helped pull together a tremendous world solidarity statement. But the most eloquent voice may have been that of former South African President Nelson Mandela.

"History and the generations to come will judge our leaders by the decisions they make in the coming weeks", Mandela told the Johannesburg crowd of 8000. "I say to all those leaders: do not look the other way, do not hesitate. It is within your power to prevent a genocide."

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