By Sonya Rehman
‘Live Aid’ – a global campaign put together by some of the biggest musicians, joined forces to not only rock, but to raise a staggering 30 million pounds on the 13th of July, 1985 for famine relief in Africa. The ‘Live Aid’ campaign impelled further global awareness campaigns/fundraisers by musicians to be developed and implemented towards the next two decades. This phenomenon of renowned artistes backing world issues via mammoth-scale concerts is a thoroughly intriguing and inspirational one…
No need for greed or hunger…
In July 2005, scores of international musicians and artistes – led by Bob Geldof -collaborated in a bid to eradicate poverty by urging world leaders to slash outstanding debts – which were owed by some of the world’s poorest countries – and in addition, sanction greater foreign aid. With an estimated three billion people tuned in to ‘Live 8’ (the name of the poverty abolition campaign), the series of concerts were aired on 182 channels and 2000 radio stations – truly outstanding figures.
The inspirational-rocker-for-human-rights-Irishman, Bono, said: “Live 8’ was, and remains a brilliant moment but what is more important is the brilliant movement of which it was a part. This gives the poorest of the poor real political muscle for the first time.
It is this movement of church people and trade unionists, soccer moms and student activists that will carry the spirit of ‘Live 8’ on. It is this movement, not rock stars that will make it untenable in the future to break promises to the most vulnerable people on this planet. That was always why we put on the concerts.”
The ‘Live 8’ global ‘make poverty history’ crusade was highly successful where creating awareness of one child dieing of hunger every three seconds, was concerned. So much so that as stated on Live 8’s website: “The World Bank has agreed to cancel $37 billion of poor countries’ debts as part of the overall package promised by the G8 last year. So far 17 countries have benefited and their debts will be cleared from July 2006”.
Gore-y side of the picture
Currently, the latest global movement seems to be kicked up by the United States’ former Vice President, Al Gore. With the global warming documentary, ‘An inconvenient truth’, released in the summer of 2006, and subsequently bagging two Oscars (in 2007) and a plethora of other awards and accolades, Gore seems to be this year’s current crusader. Soundly shot and executed by director Davis Guggenheim, Gore interlaces snippets of his personal and professional experiences with facts/figures of the world’s climatic crisis in a very explicable, yet urgent (read ‘burning’) way.
The documentary, no doubt is a spiffy one. Both criticized and lauded by scientists, the government, Hollywood and the general public at large, ‘An inconvenient truth’ has had its fair share of punches and triumphs.
And currently, Gore announced his plans of teaming up with the organizers behind ‘Live 8’ for a one day concert which will take place in seven continents on the 7th of July this year in 2007.
In an interview, Kevin Hall (the main spearhead of ‘Live 8’) stated that the concert ‘Live Earth’ would “start in Shanghai, and go to Sydney, Rio De Janeiro, Washington D.C, London, Johannesburg and finish the show in Kyoto at the old Buddhist temple where we would do an acoustic show and ask the world to take a breath.” Hall added: “Our success, I hope, is to act like a tipping point for a lot of movements that are already happening. I told Al, ‘two million people have seen this movie – two billion people will watch this event. We’ll give you the microphone. Let’s make a change here.’”
The band/musician line-up for ‘Live Earth’ consists of Madonna, The Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, Dave Matthews Band, Genesis, Black Eyed Peas, Roger Waters, The Police (surprise, surprise!), Foo Fighters and a salvo of others.
‘Live Earth’ is expected to be as big (if not bigger) as ‘Live 8’ in terms of its coverage, expected response and global awareness results.
National action – pulling our socks up
In Pakistan one can understand the limitations our artistes have vis-à-vis getting together huge projects such as the abovementioned.
Yet, whatever little they can, they must do. Take for example the collaboration between Bryan Adams and Shehzad Roy last year in January (which took place in Karachi). The charity concert was aimed at raising funds for Roy’s ‘Zindagi Trust’ – for the rehabilitation and construction of new schools in the country’s severely destroyed, quake-hit areas up North. The concert was a colossal success where more than 15000 Pakistani’s (many flown in from other cities) got to enjoy and experience the performance by an international luminary (so to speak). It raked in an abundance of dough too.
And then on a smaller scale, this year, Strings, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Haroon, Hadiqa Kiyani, Ali Zafar and Ali Haider collaborated on a song against terrorism – called ‘Yeh hum naheen’. Pakistani artistes must continue to collaborate on projects – whether small or big – to spread awareness on whatever current social plague that seems to bite its way like a piranha into the system. It just gives local music so much more soul and personality, rather than the same contrived love-ditzy-b.s that tends to be churned out year after year, month after month.
The fact that an internationally-renowned artiste can be juxtaposed with the average politician (also given that the artiste holds far more influence over the masses)…speaks volumes. Think big. It doesn’t matter if you start out small…as long as the flame of truth burns within you deep and strong. Act now. Act with honour, faith and grace.
Instep, The News