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How leaders, artistes raised Sh717bn to fight poverty



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Last Sunday, world leaders and celebrities converged in Soweto, South Africa, to combat poverty.

The event at FNB stadium was of historic proportions. Dubbed the “Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100” its significance lies in being equal parts entertaining, educating and fundraising.

The festival lived up to its billing at the biggest campaign in Africa aimed at contributing solutions for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

To get a sense of the spectacular year-ender, consider the stats on the entertainment end of things.

American musical greats, including Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams were joined by South Africa’s Cassper Nyovest and Nigeria’s D’banj and Tiwa Savage in an evening oozing with energy.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana), Erna Solberg (Norwegian PM), World Bank President Jim Kim and tens of UN agency heads.

Hundreds of business honchos were on hand to announce hefty monetary commitments.

Add NGOs and you begin to appreciate why the fete was considered the most successful in Africa.

Emceed, by acclaimed personalities like Oprah Winfrey, Trevor Noah, Naomi Campbell and Sir Bob Geldof, the festival scored a number of tangible successes.

Announcements towards causes to fight poverty in Africa were valued at $7,096,996,725, surpassing the initial target of $1 billion. The figure is slightly more than the combined GDPs of Burundi, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The beneficiaries are expected to top 137 million people.

The success of the event is by and large predicated on the invocation of the Mandela brand.

Part of its excellence is based on its being framed as the capping of his 100th birthday festivities.

It is thus feasible for similar concerts to draw on the memory of Nobel laureates like Anwar Sadat (Egypt), Kofi Annan (Ghana), Wangari Maathai (Kenya) and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia).

What the “Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100” tells us is that concerts that entertain while educating and fundraising are feasible in middle income African countries with a musical culture such Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon and Congo.

Dr Wekesa is a media and geopolitics scholar at University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa: [email protected]