June 28, 2005

Live 8 rock stars ‘need to see the real Africa’

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The Live 8 rock concertshighlighting Africa's woes should have been staged in theworld's poorest continent with global stars performingalongside local acts, organizers of the Johannesburg gig saidTuesday.

Nine Live 8 gigs featuring top acts like U2, Elton John andMadonna will be held on July 2, but critics have lambastedIrish rocker Bob Geldof, mastermind of Live 8, for shunningAfrican stars in an event meant to underline the continent'sproblems.

"If we had a collaboration with these European and U.S.stars, if we stood on stage with them, that would have had abigger impact," said South African star Zola, who will performat a concert in Johannesburg endorsed by Live 8 Saturday.

"It would have been nice for them to come here ... theyneed to see the real Africa," he told reporters.

Live 8 organizers, under pressure to mount an Africaneffort, approached local campaigners at the 11th hour tosuggest a local concert with a link to the bigger gigs.

Hassen Lorgat, South Africa spokesman for the Global Callto Action against Poverty, one of the organizing groups, saidhe was thrilled Africa would be given the global exposure thatcomes with being affiliated to Live 8, but said he would havedone things differently if he had been in Geldof's shoes.

"Sometimes he worries about the prize, so the idea is toraise the maximum amount of funds. Geldof is not a bad guy, butI would do it differently," he told a news conference.

There is a chance that former South African President andanti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela might appear at theJohannesburg concert, although this had not been confirmed,organizers said.

The Live 8 gigs will call for more aid for Africa, debtcancellation and fairer trade ahead of a July 6-8 meeting ofthe G8 group of seven industrialized nations and Russia inScotland.

Concerts are being held in London, Berlin, Paris,Philadelphia, Rome, Tokyo, Moscow and near Toronto.