First Person

Sahel food crisis: Musicians, others join forces to ‘make charity unnecessary’

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Amadou and Mariam show their support. Photo: Charlotte Wales/Oxfam

If you’re a fellow music fan, you probably caught some of the incredible live performances at the London Olympics closing ceremony last night. From the Who to Annie Lennox to the Spice Girls reunion, all kinds of British musical talent was on display for the world to see.

However, you may not have heard about another event taking place the same day—the Hunger Summit—that also inspired world-renowned artists to come together for a good cause.

To coincide with the end of the world’s biggest gathering of nations, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Brazilian vice-president Michel Temer co-hosted a mini-summit of world leaders, NGOs, and leading businesspeople. They discussed ways to address hunger and malnourishment in some of the world’s poorest countries.

In an open letter to the global media published just before the summit, more than 30 leading musicians, actors, and writers joined forces to call for sustainable solutions to hunger and urgent action on the immediate crisis in the Sahel region. Those signing the letter included Oxfam ambassadors Djimon Hounsou, Angelique Kidjo, and Baaba Maal, as well as Brazilian, British, and African musicians like Sidi Touré (recently interviewed on this blog), Amadou and Mariam, Femi Kuti, Roots Manuva, Gilberto Gil, Mulatu Astatke, and many more.

Sidi Toure's sign reads "drought is natural, hunger is not." Photo: Charlotte Wales/Oxfam

Many of these artists also posed for exclusive photos for the Sahel 2012 campaign led by Oxfam, Africans Act for Africa, and Avaaz. More than 500,000 people worldwide signed the petition demanding concrete action from world leaders in response to the crisis in the Sahel, as well as an investment in long-term solutions to hunger.

In their letter, the artists also make a powerful call for a change in the way we think about Africa and crises like this one. Here’s an excerpt:

Let’s also be clear the solution [to crises] lies in Africa– a continent of vibrant, talented, creative and hardworking people.  Africans need a relationship with the rest of the world that treats them as who they are – equals with something to offer. … Together we can make an African future where ‘charity will have become unnecessary.’

Oxfam is aiming to help 1.2 million people across seven countries with programs that include cash transfers and cash-for-work initiatives, veterinary care for the livestock on which many families depend, and access to clean water and sanitation. We are also campaigning to change the root causes of this crisis. Find out how you can support our efforts. Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+