''Four years, 19 countries, and 24 experts in anthropology, medicine, ecology, and health have exposed the roots of our DNA and how to prevent the modern world from making you sick.''
Reflecting.... It's been 4 years since I wrote my thesis on the 'Pornography of Poverty: An Anthropological perspective into fundraising campagins'. I had focused on images and messages of these campaigns and asked for the responsiblity of representation. Why use that title? - it was striking for me when I saw the expression describing how images of poverty were being used similarly to images of pornography. I agreed;
Placing poverty outside of context and constantly showing images of poverty but not the REASONS and the social and economical systems in place that perpetuate poverty lead people to either:
1. Turn a blind eye to those images we are unfortuantely now so used to seeing eveywhere (que: child with flies around eyes) that we become numb and desensitised OR
2. Give money and not think about anything else: 'I've done my duty'
(Note: I am NOT saying giving money is wrong).
I had focused on the LIVE AID concerts (I had grown up watching the Live Aid tapes because of my parents - and it was indeed one of the most epic events in history- unmatched) that were set up by Bob Geldof to aid the famine in Ethiopa in 1983-4, looked at how and if things had changed for LIVE 8 in 2005 concerts that took place during the 31st G8 summit and through my research had essentially pleed for a more responsible form of representation for humanitarian fundraising campaigns.
Now that BAND AID 30 has come out (Live Aid was born out of a song 'Do they Know It's Christmas?' sung by various artists (known as Band Aid) I have had to reflect once more on my opinions. Where are we now with these campaigns?
Last year I was lucky enough to meet Bob Geldof at a conference in which he was giving a talk about his experiences. I was touched by his passion and knowledge. I told him about my dissertation. In my dissertation I had actually criticised the song and celebrities for 'wanting to do good' but being patronising and also furthering the negative perceptions of Africa.
Speaking to him changed my viewpoint. I still thought (and think) the song is patronising but I was also now able to see his experience, his reasons, his idea behind this all. He himself said - he didn't realise how BIG the song was going to be - Live Aid 'just happenned', it grew it became uncontrallable. He was a normal & charming guy, spoke of his own life (quite tough too growing up in Ireland) and his emotions behind starting such a campaign. I can understand this.
And I believe that this representation HAD changed to a certain extent for Live 8. Twenty years later G8 WAS indeed more political - aimed at politicians. It made a lot of noise. Caught politicans attention and G8 countries as a result HAD to make certain concessions. It DID have small effect. By focusing on political and social processes Live 8 was in my opinion closer to truth in terms of representing the issues at hand.
It feel that all of this comes back to the famous quote: ''with great power comes great responsibility''.
So 2 days ago I watched the new Band Aid 30 video to help fight Ebola. What are my opinions? Mixed: dissapointed somewhat at the same song, similar message, the injustices that continue; but also understanding (The single raised 1 million pounds within X Factor debut) - this amount of money DOES have power to bring about significant change IF it goes to the right places. The truth is some celebrities and some people aren't doing anything.
There is one quote I found by Damon Albarn which I do agree with however:
“There are problems with our idea of charity, especially these things that suddenly balloon out of nothing and then create a media frenzy where some of that essential communication is lost and it starts to feel like it’s a process where if you give money you solve the problem, and really sometimes giving money creates another problem.”
I guess my point to all of this is it's easy to crticise but it's also easy to create something without necessarily thinking of the consequences because 'IT'S GOOD'.
I think in some ways campaigns have started to lead in this direction, in others there is a long way to go. Why couldn't they create another song for helping with Ebola ? (Because Band Aid is now such a well known song and it'll sell more (thank God they've changed some of the lyrics - others don't agree with me, see links below.) Is this right or wrong? Does creating a song and donating money help? Which organisations should we donate to there are many? Is doing something better than doing nothing? Where does the money go?
These are all questions we should all be asking constantly because it's not a matter of 2+2 = 4 and we ALL have our part to play to break unfair, out of context and untruthful representation. Perhaps one may not agree with the new song or perhaps they will. One thing THAT IS important though is that we KEEP on asking these questions and strive for real change.
This IS our world, it is OUR responsiblity too.
To read my dissertatiıon written in 2010 and see some of the images / campaigns used during Live Aid-Live 8-BandAid click the download link below. Looking back there is a lot to improve upon, to develop and change which I aim to do in the future but for a little more information it may be useful. For any other questions you may contact me via email in the CONTACT section of my website.
Video Discussion (Updated 20 Nov 2014):
Sunday Morning Live on BBC 16.11.2014 Ms Robtel Neajai Pailey (PHD Student at my old university - School of Oriental and African Studies) discussing Band Aid with Esther Rantzen.
Other articles on this topic (Some I agree some I disagree but interesting to look at varying opinions.) (Updated 20 Nov 2014)
Why I had to turn down Band Aid
'We got this, Bob Geldof, so back off'
Why Adele was right to ignore Bob Geldof and Band Aid
Damon Albarn suggests Sir Bob Geldof's Band Aid 30 patronises Africa: 'There are problems with our idea of charity'
Sir Bob lets loose again to brand criticism of new Band Aid song ‘complete b******s’ during live TV interview as single goes to NO.1 in iTunes chart
Band Aid 30: Fuse ODG turned down Bob Geldof's song over 'negative' image of Africa
Bob Geldof Denies Adele Band Aid Song Snub
Band Aid 30 ditched the only half-decent line it had
So, before diving straight back into my day to day life post -
The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Gold Event (IGE) South Korea: Leadership for a Transformed Award, I thought it was incredibly important that I sat down with my own thoughts and emotions to truly see what my role as an individual was going to be from here. How was I going to take all that I had learnt, the experiences I had gained and transform them into a feasible action plan for myself as an individual but also as National Director for the Award Programme in Turkey?
I decided to write down questions about what I thought the whole IGE experience meant for me. It felt that IGE 2014 was asking some very vital questions : How as individuals within different nations could we come together as a solid team to become the positive leaders
/ change makers in the world? How could we use the Award and the concept of non-formal education to create a constructive impact on society locally and globally? More importantly how were our Award holders going to become future leaders and changemakers? Because they needed to be...
Through learning about the theoretical aspects of team work and leadership and further working together practically within a team we were able to see first-hand the challenges that a small group of multi-cultural individuals could experience when given a single task. Our task was simple: to prepare a 10 minute presentation based on our entire IGE learning experience and linking it back to the Award.
We were separated into groups based on the 9 impact measures of the Award. I was placed in Group 6 (Group name: 길라잡이! (Gillajab-i !) Lead the Road!). We were to explore impact measure 3: Health and Wellbeing. I was thrilled when I learnt about this as I have a personal interest in issues of health and well-being. We were taken to Healience centre where we took part in various activities such as yoga and meditation and learnt about 4 habits of individuals that need to be changed for creating a healthy body and mind: eating, exercise, biorhythm and mental habits.
Throughout our 2 day field visit at the Healience centre I further realised that in this world of ever growing technology and bombardment of information (Remember the Did you Know? video ) we sometimes forget to just sit and take 10 minutes out of our day to be just with ourselves, breathe, meditate and reflect. The simple act of breathing can help release Serotonin (nicknamed the happiness hormone) and allow us to think and act more clearly.
So what did this all mean? Why was it that IGE 2014 had been a life changing experience for me as an individual?
After our visits together we came together to prepare our presentations. As a team throughout the IGE we had formed, stormed, normed and finally were ready to perform! . Everything came together as we got on stage held hands and shouted our group name: Gillajab-i ! We had made it; we had managed to overcome our differences, come together as individuals and a team to successfully carry out our task. It was incredible to watch that all the other 8 teams had done the same. The presentations were not only touching, they were living proof of the Award’s positive impact on society. I saw what we as a global family were capable of achieving; the potential of the Award on bringing about vast positive change worldwide.
After saying goodbye to my new friends (I confess: I was crying a little) and boarding the plane, it all hit me quite hard as I came across a quote in a booklet that had been handed to me at the Korean Magazine Fair in Seoul. It was a booklet discussing Buddhism. One particular sentence struck out at me. This was it I thought!
‘A great revolution of character in an individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and further, will cause a change in the destiny of all humankind’
It seemed clear: if we were indeed so dedicated to changing the world to make it a better place we should also be dedicated to taking care of ourselves - as it is through a healthy body, mind and attitude that we can maintain the positive energy needed to become tomorrow’s global change makers. By leading by example, by leading through serving, by ‘talking the talk & walking the walk’ we would truly be able to ‘Lead the Road’ to a better humanity working together as a global team regardless of age, gender, religion, race etc.
Finally, one particular quote struck out for me at the IGE: ''Multiculturalism: a society at ease with the rich tapestry of human life''. I realised that we all have our part to play by ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ in order to maintain this rich tapestry of human life – by bettering ourselves as individuals and working together we are capable of much more. One presentation put this thought across so clearly by ending with the African Proverb: ‘It takes a village to raise a child’; as one of our friends also added to this quote: ‘it takes a nation to build a generation’.…
Whilst building though please do remember to breathe! =)*
*There are many guided meditation videos but here are a few to get you started:
10 Minute Meditation music
10 Minute Guided Meditation
A big thank you to The International Award Foundation, The Korean Award family, The Korean National Youth Centre, The Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the International Council, The International Award Trustees, all the volunteers, and finally the Award in Turkey for giving me the opportunity to take part in this IGE - It was truly an unforgettable and lifechanging experience.
Onwards and upwards!
Interested in international development, humanitarian work and activism through art, literature and music. Singer/Song-writer/Guitarist.