Congratulations for celebrating 30 years of Band Aid. I am sure you are happy with the outcome!
I wasn't going to write another letter, but today waking up from New York City, not far from the United Nations Headquarters, father of the specialized agency responsible of the word health, I felt inspired. I've been talking to various African networks and wonderful people who wished me to write another letter and explaining you why your initiative was a bad idea, so this is what I would like to say and I am saying this as an African and in the spirit of kindness, sharing ideas and collaboration.
Africans are concerned that you are again taking their power away. Most of them don't have the network and power you have in mobilising millions of people; they possibly do not have the marketing capacity and power of persuasion to call world leaders in a close of an eye. Africans do not want to fight with you!
Africans are concerned that those people around you have led you to believed or supported you in your belief, that is it perfectly fine to celebrate 30 years of Band Aid by mobilising a new generations of western musicians to make a music for the Ebola in Africa where only three countries out of 54 are really affected.
Views are mixed about Live Aid, I am sure you know that! Many people appreciate the fact that you can kick politicians' asses to raise awareness around poverty in Africa, they appreciate the fact you can add your voices for money to be given to good causes helping the most vulnerable but the fact you choose to celebrate Band Aid 30th birthday by using the Ebola Crisis is very ill intended.
In no way I am condemning the fact that you want to raise awareness about this dreadful virus, which is killing thousand of Africans. Ebola is brutal and deadly we know this Bob, hence the African business leaders from sectors including banking and mining came together recently, and committed $28.5 million and logistical support at a meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, the same Ethiopia you called the world to support 30 years ago. How ironic! Leaders have promised that the money will be managed by the African Development Bank -- which has also provided over $220 million in support -- and overseen by the African Union, will be used to support doctors, nurses and lab technicians. Is that not good enough? An African-led initiative, done by Africans!
I am happy to hear that many people still want to help Africa and you can comfortably bring people together and sell them your humanity idea, and even a new generation of musicians are also willing to use their music to join in.
Here is my problem and also the problem of many voices in Africa and outside -- we are really dissatisfied with the way celebrities like you think that they can just wake up and decide to do things on the name of Africa. I hope that you will pay close attention to what I am conveying to you.
Again, I know you want to help Africa and Africans, like millions of people around the world. I also know that you have African friends that you wish to support in any way that you can. I know you are doing your best to get Africa in to the public eye and reaching out to world leaders to make them more aware of Africa's problems, an influence that your money and connections buys you. But I and many other Africans feel strongly that it is no longer appropriate to organise concerts or come up with music each time there is an outbreak of famine or disease in Africa.
It frustrate us that you cannot see this for yourselves and that there appears to be nobody in your entourage who is making you understand that is demeaning to Africans.
Perhaps you are so convinced that we need to always raise awareness or educate the west to care about Africa and give, but when will this stop? Africa is not an educational project for the west. We are growing as a continent and want to be respected as a continent. We have a collective intelligence that can help the continent progress without you always intervening. We don't want the NGO's to take over the health services, the government should be doing this.
When will this nonsense stop? Africa has 55 African billionaires, with a net worth totaling $161.7 billion.
When will this stop, when millions of dollars jave been poured to Africa for the last 30 years to build health infrastructure, eradicate poverty, empower governments to become self sufficient?
Some will defend your intentions, but the rest feel resentment and frustration at your continued high profile and your influence, despite your decades-long status as 'friends of Africa'.
The Africa you knew in the '80s and '90s has changed dramatically. The African Diaspora has matured and the African people have progressed. They are now working hard in and outside Africa and they are telling you that a constructive discussion about the future of the continent cannot take place with you at the helm.
Here are a few ideas that would perhaps enable new spokespeople to emerge and make it possible for you to step down gracefully and leave a positive legacy:
- Start empowering and promoting African musicians effectively, engage the grassroots in your discussions, share your expertise with humility.
- Bear in mind that Africa need partners, not masters.
- Speak to and learn from the African Diaspora and the many amazing Africans who are already successful.
- Be more approachable, even to those who might be critical to your views. Africa must be able to argue, disagree with you with out being intellectually or emotionally aggressed or dismissed. Celebrities have influence, but do not necessarily have the answers.
- Do not impose 'solutions' on Africans.
- Listen, learn and then engage with the African grassroots, civil society rather than hanging around with few elites because have network and connections.
- Africa must not be divided, we have a youth than you can mobilise to change their continent, do it rather than playing it safe.
A proud African woman