How can the West help Africa? A global Q&A
Saturday, 10 cities around the world will host some of pop music's biggest names as part of the "Live 8" concert series (www.live8live.com). Organizer Bob Geldof hopes large turnouts will pressure the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations, meeting in Scotland next week, to help put "an end to poverty" in Africa. He also hopes the rock shows will boost awareness about Africa's plight - and how the wealthy world can help.Skip to next paragraph
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The Monitor decided to find out what some Western concertgoers really know about Africa, and where there is - and isn't - common ground with Africans.
Our correspondents spoke with eight ticket-holders for concerts in Philadelphia, London, and Rome. They also interviewed eight people in Senegal and Nigeria, two indebted African nations.
As it turns out, the two groups have different priorities. Nearly every Westerner mentioned HIV/AIDS as a top African problem. Only one African did. Every African cited poverty as a major worry. And most wanted investment - not aid.
We also asked some lighter questions. Could the Westerners name even one African leader? (Only half could.) Did the Africans know what U2 is? (Most didn't).
The Africans universally agreed that their continent is culturally richer than many Westerners can imagine, but that their leaders are fundamentally corrupt. That's why this group all advocated that "strings" be tied to aid to prevent it from going astray.
George David Malik, a bartender from Dakar, Senegal.
What is the biggest problem facing Africa? Poverty. In Senegal, the capital [Dakar] looks nice, but in small towns people sometimes have only one meal per day. Prostitution is growing in Dakar because people need money. Girls who are 14 or 15 years old leave school and go to nightclubs to meet men and get money to support their families. Then come health problems, and there are no services for them. Finding work is difficult.
Will debt relief, one of the G-8 proposals, help Africa? Because of the debt, the population pays the price. The cost of sugar and food increases because the state cannot pay [interest on loans from rich nations]. Each time the regime changes, the new one has to pay the old one's debt, but really it's the people who pay.
What should people know about Africa that they probably don't? Family comes first.... We respect our parents and do what they tell us to. Also, we are not like Europeans - you have one or two children. Me, I am one of six children - three boys and three girls. I live at home with all of them.
Name the heads of state for the following countries (where the five main Live 8 concerts are being held):
United States: George Bush
Britain: The guy there, Bush's friend. Is it Tony Blair?
Italy: They have a queen, don't they? No, I only know the pope.
Germany: No idea.
France: Wait, why can't I remember? Wait a sec. No, I forget.
Ousmane Kane of Saint Louis, Senegal, a student at the University of Dakar.
What is Africa's biggest problem? Civil wars. People are fighting over money and wealth - or to become a president so they can get rich.
Do you think the G-8's plans will help? To help us, they should not give money. That will only make us less happy. The people who need it most don't get it. Only the big politicians get to keep it for themselves.