Live Aid was aimed at helping the African people riddled with famine and has continued to be an inspiration but for Africans it has also brought a culture of being looked down upon.
It was truly a testing time when the famine hit African countries during 1983-85 and the whole world saw the decline of humanity to the basic need of hunger, people were reduced to bone and skin with no flesh in the midst.
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Two years of famine in what is today Ethiopia and Eritrea had led to more than 400,000 deaths. Itt was devastating for those who could not keep themselves from shedding tears at the picture of famine that was being covered by the media worldwide.
In those testing times, Bob Geldof thought that music could be that uniting frontier through which people could be reached around the world to come together and help the oppressed hence he In an effort to raise funds for relief in the ongoing famine, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure came up with Live Aid, a concert that would take place across two venues; Wembley Stadium in London, and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13th, 1985.
The founders believed that they could contribute to ease the suffering of the African victims of famine and gathered an array of musicians that performed on the concert. They were not even sure that people would actually show up but there was this charging excitement that something great was going to happen.
And it did. The concert went on for 16 hours between the two venues. The concert from London was broadcast in Philadelphia and from Philly to London. Almost 2 billion people turned up to attend the concert. It went for the whole day and was broadcast in around 150 countries worldwide. According to Breen, it was amazing.
There was a sense of occasion, of something really dramatic happening and that continued throughout the whole day. The event just gained momentum as it went through the day. No one really knew what was going to happen. Nobody really knew if it would just fall apart.
Nobody really knew if anybody would turn up. That was the dynamic. We were out in the crowd and as they remember now the sense that there was a happening, that it was a real news event, just that real sense of expectation and excitement in the crowd.
Geldof had hoped to raise £1 million for Ethiopia through Live Aid, though the super concert was watched by an estimated 1.5 billion worldwide, featured 16 hours of live music and raised about £50 million ($104 million) on the day and about £150 million ($312 million) in the decades since the event from merchandise sales.
Remembering the best moments on the concert, U2 comes off as a significant name in making the history on the concert. Queen made the most of their 20 minutes, opening with Bohemian Rhapsody and finishing with We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions and their sound director helped by quietly switching out the limiters that had been installed on the venue's sound system so the performance would be louder than the others.
Queen's performance was voted the best live gig of all time in a British television poll of more than 60 musicians and journalists in 2005. During their energetic duet of It's Only Rock And Roll, Jagger tore off Turner's skirt and she danced away the rest of the song in a leotard. Geldof convinced several bands who had been defunct for years to reunite for the concert, among them were The Who, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, who had not played since the death of John Bonham.
While there has been a lot of money that the concert had raised ever since, the event has also played a part in downsizing and stereotyping Africa. Sure the continent was riddled with famine once upon a time and it is grateful for the world to have helped them in their time of need but the concert has painted Africa as a helpless and excessively a burden on the others. This cult of celebrities that deem themselves as ‘missionaries’ have often led to a dangerous dumbing down of serious issues, brushing aside other innovative and resilient grassroots efforts.
It might be important to enlighten the fact that Africa is a diverse continent of 55 countries. Long-running conflicts in Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been calmed; civil society activists have courageously fought for democratic freedoms in Benin, Zambia, Egypt, Tunisia and Burkina Faso; ruling parties have been voted out of office in Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Nigeria; and members of Africa’s diaspora now contribute $60bn ($40m) annually to their home countries: more than the continent receives in foreign aid. It still faces being called the ‘hopeless continent’ and the ‘dark continent’ undermining all the progress it has made over the years.
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