After pulling off 10 free multi-artist concerts around the world last Saturday, Bob Geldof staged a final Live 8 concert in Edinburgh yesterday (July 6) in a last-ditch bid to press leaders of the world’s top industrialized nations gathering in nearby Gleneagles to do more to alleviate poverty.
About 50,000 people crowded into the Murrayfield sports stadium in Edinburgh, 40 miles from where leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) were meeting. As previously reported, the concert featured such artists as James Brown, Annie Lennox, Snow Patrol, the Coors and Jamie Cullum.
“On Friday there will be a great silence across the world while we await the verdict of eight men. Is [Africa] to live or die?” Geldof asked the crowd.
In a recorded message shown in the stadium prior to the concert, former South African president Nelson Mandela issued a plea to the G8 summit participants: “I say to all those leaders: ‘Don’t look the other way. Don’t hesitate. Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words. Act with courage.”
Geldof also orchestrated the Live Aid event 20 years ago — which was watched by 1.5 billion people and raised $100 million for African famine victims. The Live 8 Web site, claims an estimated 3 billion watched Saturday’s concerts, which were broadcast by MTV and VH1 on television and AOL Music online.
Live 8 participants hope their efforts and public response will force leaders to act on poverty, and is demanding debt relief for poor countries, a doubling of aid and fairer trade conditions.
Geldof, who has reportedly been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize by Norwegian parliamentarian Jan Simonsen, and U2 front man Bono met some G8 leaders face-to-face to get their message across. Bono called Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin “difficult” and “annoying” after Martin said it would take time for his country to meet demands to boost overseas assistance to 0.7 percent of Gross Domestic Product from 0.26 percent now.
The two stars have lavished praise on British Prime Minister Tony Blair for making Africa and poverty priorities at the G8 summit, although it is far from clear whether they will get what they want from the gathering of the world’s most powerful men.
They have pointed to recent debt concessions by rich countries and Washington’s agreement to double aid to Africa as examples of how nations are responding to calls to do more.
In addition to the Live 8 concerts, Geldof urged up to a million people to march on Edinburgh and join the “Make Poverty History” campaign. Only a few hundred protesters were visible in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon, although some 200,000 attended an anti-poverty march over the weekend.
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