Monday, November 15, 2004

LONG RANGE WEATHER FORECAST: SNOW IN AFRICA TOWARDS END OF NEXT MONTH 'UNLIKELY' SAY POP STARS: So, it's been done, then, although the completition of the recording of the Band Aid single hasn't yet stopped jostling for position to get onboard: Madonna has recorded an "introduction" to the video in which the multi-millionaire will insist that we feed the world.

This is the line-up, more or less:

Highlights of the day seem to have been Joss Stone calling the raggle-taggle Irish godfather "Bob Gandalf"; Midge Ure who, if we didn't know better, seemed determined to ensure that his profile should be at least as high as Bob's; and Geldof, who wanted to make sure Everybody Knows How Important He ("This") Is: "But the best thing of all is the attitude. What happened in this room today is properly important and memorable and will be remembered." Prior to getting to work, Geldof wheeled out the bit that Bowie used during Live Aid to set the mood - although, if he was more honest, he'd have just waved U2's album sales chart from the month after Live Aid to help concentrate the minds a little more sharply.

It's hard to knock the efforts, but the problem surely is that the first Band Aid came out of nowhere, and people seemed to be involved for the best of motives: this time round, it's all been a bit of a media circus, with whacky photos being posed on the way in and a surprising amount of stressing of how much crying people did. It feels less like a genuine reaction to a crisis and more like a scramble to be on board the bandwagon. We wonder, for example, if people were shocked and surprised being shown images of starvation, what exactly did they think they were doing it for in the first place? And why did Bob use twenty-year old footage? Maybe because there's less enthusiasm for the project amongst those they're setting out to help this time round - sure, the money would be nice but there are bigger, more structural problems which need to be solved. Ehtiopia's ambassaor Fisseha Adugna worries that the message of "two decades on, and we're still having to do a sing-song to feed the bairns" gives the impression that Ethiopia is a basket case which is always going to need to shake the collecting tin, when, really, it would be much more use to sort out international trade:

Mr Adunga pointed out that Ethiopia lost around $900m from unfair coffee trading in the last five years, and last year had to pay $150m to service its debt.

"If you combine all of this, it is more than $1bn," he said.

"If we save that amount of money, then how many schools and hospitals would have been built in Ethiopia?"

But then "Feed the world/ sort out the coffee markets" isn't quite as catchy, is it?