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July 2, 2005
Live 8 Starts Slow, Picks Up Speed

The grassroots effort to convince the G-8 nations to rescue Africa got off to a shaky start this morning in Tokyo, the launching pad for the concert series designed to produce political pressure on the richest nations act now. Only 10,000 showed up for the debut concert in Tokyo:

he Live 8 global music marathon to raise awareness of African poverty began in Japan on Saturday, as Bjork and Good Charlotte joined local bands in a concert that failed to generate much interest in Asia's only G-8 nation.

Added to the Live 8 list at the last minute, the concert in Japan drew only about 10,000 people, all of whom were selected in a lottery. The venue in this Tokyo suburb normally holds about 20,000.

Even so, organizers said that considering they had less than a month to prepare, it was a good showing.

The Tokyo venue came as a surprise; last night, I and several other bloggers participated in a conference call with Live 8 organizers that featured Dr. Benjamin Chavis, who now heads up the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and represents the genre in Live 8 leadership. Tokyo, as far as I can recall, did not receive any mention. London was mentioned several times as the kickoff for the tour.

As impressed as I was by Bob Geldof, and there is no doubting that he and Bono make impressive cases for Live 8, yesterday's call left me with some doubts as to the depth of the team at the second level. Dr. Chavis makes a good spokesmen for the effort, but he doesn't have the grasp of detail and of the politics involved in creating the across-the-board support required to get African aid levels to where they want. Omitting Tokyo is only one of the details we didn't hear. When Geldof spoke to bloggers, he presented Live 8 in very practical terms, both politically and economically. Dr. Chavis' talk sounded much more facile, more slogans and gimmicks than red meat.

Still, I believe that we need to find a way to stabilize the African continent, if for no other reason than to eliminate the influence that Islamists have exercised through gang warfare in places like Somalia. That requires political reform on Africa's part, because no one, including me, wants to see another $400 billion sinkhole for Western aid like Nigeria again. In the end, if we want to see a self-sufficient and democratic Africa, which is in everyone's best interest, we need to find an effective manner to assist them to get there. Sir Bob Geldof, I think, has the right concepts. But the Devil is in the details, and we're hearing less of them, not more, as we go along.

Visit the Live 8 website for more updates. If you watch the concerts live, they have an arrangement for text messages from cell phones to display over the stages at the various events. The web site will give directions on how callers can show their support, live for all to see, while the concerts go on.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 2, 2005 8:32 AM

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