October 25, 2005

Live8 got young to care about Africa: Geldof

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Bob Geldof said on Tuesday that the Live
8 concerts in July were "not the blinking of an eye but a
devastating bomb" that could motivate the young to care about
Africa's woes.

"It was a bizarre confluence of politics and populism," the
rocker turned activist said of rock 'n' roll's greatest line-up
ever, designed to pressure world leaders to alleviate poverty.

Leaders of the Group of Eight industrial nations -- meeting
shortly after the concerts -- agreed to double aid to poor
countries by 2010 although Make Poverty History, the charity
umbrella group which worked closely with Geldof, argued that
was just one tenth of the amount needed.

But, Geldof argues, the shows did something probably even
more vital than raise money -- they heightened young people's
awareness of Africa's problems.

The concerts, with a global audience of two billion, showed
how effectively celebrities can publicise good causes even
though they may have reinforced aid agency fears that stars
like Geldof and fellow Irish rocker Bono could oversimplify
complex issues.

In an interview with Reuters, Geldof insisted that the
pulling power of rock culture could be a force for good in
attracting media attention to a cause -- even if it was a
broad-brush approach.

"It wasn't the blinking of an eye -- it was a devastating
bomb," he said of Live8, a series of 10 charity rock gigs
staged around the world on July 2.

"The effect forever on the economic life of Africa is
there," Geldof added.

"The aid agencies are now marketing the young like big
companies because the agencies truly understand," he said.

Then, pointing to himself, Geldof said: "They always
suspected it but it took marketeers in popular culture to be
able to show that you can really inform younger people and get
them to move the agenda."

Dubbed "Saint Bob" for staging the 1985 Live Aid concert to
save the starving in Ethiopia, Geldof has always been an
intriguing mixture of contradictions.

The foul-mouthed and dishevelled rocker rails against
authority but rubs shoulders with world leaders in his
determination to break the spiral of poverty in Africa.

He is a master at bullying rock stars into leaving their
egos at the side of the stage and displaying genuine altruism.

Geldof, in London to launch the DVD of a BBC documentary
series he made on Africa, says he is not a pessimist about the
future of the continent.

"I am a possibilist, I am a pragmatist," he said. "I think
the impetus is still there."

"This continent cannot be allowed to die nightly in the
pornography of poverty that is our news screens. People cannot
simply die every night over our dinner tables. That must stop."