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July 02, 2005



Sure by all means promote understanding of the issues and an apreciation for the continent. But you and I know the media doesn't work that way. That's too complicated a message.

But also, the tired suggestion that capitalism will save Africa comes up time and time again. Like Vietnam where I live, reporters venture here 30 years after the war and report back that capitalism is saving Vietnam. Forgetting of course that a period of peace is the biggest reason for the improvements (I'm not saying that capitalism hasn't helped but its also contributed to cuts in free education, healthcare etc).

I get tired of the mantra of capitalism, freedom, democracy etc. It doesn't always work, not least in America.

Having said that, this is about cutting Africa some slack. Cut the debt, increase the aid and then develop. Paying off the debts is costing countries education and healthcare, without which no country can grow.

Working for an organisation like VSO (www.vso.org.uk) no one needs to teach me that aid and development must be sustainable but, for the most part, Africa is so far behind that it needs assistance first.

Then, lets see how the capitalism thing works.

But in the meantime the race to be the quirky voice of reason with the whole Live 8 thing is boring in itself. It's about hearts and minds and in this age of spin nothing is more important. Lets keep the pressure on politicians. We could genuinely make poverty history.

But what really bugs me is when I read from someone who doesn't want their tax dollars to go to this cause. That they think that there is an way out of this mess that doesn't involve spending a cent.

Its almost as if the very act of charity has become associated with the left wing so those from the right have to find a more business-based solution of their own.

Bush is quoted in today's papers saying that he won't agree to anything that will not benefit the USA. What about benefitting mankind as a whole?

Live8 can be a great moment in world history if a decision is reached that benefits Africa and the third world. But Live8 only works if we drop the cynicism and decide that en masse we want to make a change and we are happy to sacrifice time and money to do this.

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