I am writing this letter to applaud the Live 8 events that have happened this past weekend in Berlin, London, Philly and elsewhere in the Western world. I have to say that after a long period of living and being exposed to real life in Western countries, I have become a Western- or to put it more specifically "White-pessimist" and developed a very big ego of Afro-optimism. This is particularly due to the way I have watched, observed and received news about Africa in these countries. The media, regular people and the education system mainly potrays its connection with Africa driven by a culture of pity. So, I had become convinced that white people have no intrinsic interest in Africa or Africans.
However, after watching "Live 8" events on TV in London, Berlin and Philly, I felt a change of heart. People coming out in numbers and thinking about Africa, performing for Africa, sweating for Africa, driving miles from the comfort of their homes for Africa. Although some of us Africans who love Africa very much are saddened by the way Africa is represented in Western audiences, today a part of me feels grateful and sad as well. I wrote to friends in Madagascar, in Senegal, in Uganda and in Nigeria, wondering how many cities in Africa have held similiar events? How many, really, how many places in Africa will you go and there is a band or fundraising event for the war in Northern Uganda or Darfur or Congo or Cote D'Ivoire? Yet if P Diddy or U2 or Snoop or 50 Cents were to come to perform in Africa for commercial purposes, many of us would save our salaries to watch their shows, and give our month(s) payment back to the rich when we cannot even raise money for our fellow Africans. Why don't African artists do this in their own countries? Or do we need an Africa International TV to show us that we are raising money for the continent?
One may say we have a lot of problems in our own countries but my goodness how many Ugandans even raise money for the people living in displaced camps in Northern Uganda? Besides those with relatives in these camps, usually it takes the likes of Save the Children to set up bases in Northern Uganda, so that our own media can report the humanitarian assistance. Then we complain that Bono or Paul McCartney are stealing the show....uhm! As Bob Geldof said today, "Don't let them tell you this doesn't work". Because twenty years ago, that girl on the TV screen had only two minutes to live. But this year, she finished her exam and degree in Agriculture in Northern Ethiopia. So, I thought to myself, even though these people's mercy is driven by an annoying culture of pity, I am watching Madonna, Snoop, Destiny's Child, Bono, Paul McCartney, sweating for Africa and raising their voice for Africa's poverty to the G8. And this made me rethink a part of my heart and pessimism about White people and the West. And I felt grateful and a little more certain that this money being raised now has a higher chance of making it to Africa unlike that money Western governments claim to allocate to Africa each year or the so-called humanitarian agencies but ends up paying their own staff and machinery.