Documentary, using archive footage and interviews with key players, which looks at 30 years of Bob Geldof and Bono's campaign against poverty. What impact has their work had?
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This programme contains some strong language and some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting
This famine is one of the great shameful things of our time.
And I find it an indictment of us and a pathetic way of living,
that a piece of plastic seven inches across with
a hole in the middle is the price of someone's life this year.
30 years ago, two young rock stars set out to challenge the world.
I turn on the news and I just see those things going past
and I don't know what to do.
Bob Geldof, he says, "I don't know what to do, but I'm going to do something."
Wow! You know? I like that.
This is the story of how Bob Geldof
and Bono used their celebrity status to take on the wiliest
politicians on earth to try to end poverty in Africa.
What was breathtaking was how Bobby and Bono set such a high goal.
This was politics at the highest table, where things are decided.
Not talked about, decided.
We just had a great visit in the Oval Office.
When we saw that we could be effective, it was very hard
then to go away again.
But with extreme poverty continuing to plague Africa,
Bono and Geldof have also been accused of arrogance.
They go into a G20 or G8.
Go then, hang around and they think that will just make
If you want to really make a difference in Africa,
why are you not speaking to us?
And they have been criticised for lack of results.
These celebrities, if economic growth and poverty
reduction are their motivations, they have failed miserably.
Have these two rock stars really changed the world?
We come to you tonight with 3.8 billion people in our back pockets.
How can they refuse us?
One of the not unimportant advantages of ending world
hunger would be that you wouldn't have to listen to me or
my friends singing about feeding the world when you're actually doing it.
So there's a lot at stake here.
How you doing, Bob?
Bono and Bob Geldof had been campaigning for decades.
They run their own 30 million lobbying organisation,
and they've been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
We've heard so much about your President.
Today, they are seen by many as established icons of aid,
loved by some and loathed by others. How did they achieve this?
And how much impact have they really had?
The African people,
they don't want aid as an ongoing basis. They need it now.
And these countries have spent...
When it started, it all seemed so simple,
way back in 1984 when they watched TV reports that shocked
the world and changed their own lives for ever.
'Dawn, and as the sun breaks through the piercing
'chill of night on the plain outside Korem, it lights up a biblical
'famine, now in the 20th century.'
Without the world noticing, drought
and civil war had quietly created the worst famine in memory.
You know, you don't normally cry at the news,
but having seen what I saw, this had a massive impact.
'The size of the disaster is stunning.
'At Korem, in the mountains, 200,000 plead for help at centres
'which can feed only a tenth of that.'
Err... the instinctive human reaction is to be disgusted
and ashamed and enraged and angry, in my case.
But unlike, say, being a bus conductor or an insurance salesman
or a bank manager, I can write tunes.
Hello, George. Are you awake?
'And I thought if a lot of the stars doing it,'
then it's more likely to be a hit than if I did it.
# In our world of plenty... #
It's ironic that the one who was the most reluctant to do
the record was this young kid I knew from Ireland called Bono.
Bono, singer in rock band U2, found it hard to believe that
Geldof was involved in bigger matters, like saving the world.
I want you to buy our record. I want to be very rich, I promise you.
We're not on a crusade.
All we want to do is to play the music we're doing and have a good time.
This is a man who walked around this city, Dublin, with a T-shirt
saying, "Looking after number one", and a song called
Looking After One, and a modus of "looking after number one."
So why would Bob want to do this?
I thought by Christmas, you know, we'd have maximum,
say, £100,000, and I would hand that to Oxfam or Save the Children
and that would be that, that's the most I could do.
# Feed the world
# Let them know it's Christmas time
# Feed the world... #
I thought that would be it. But no, it became this phenomenon.
It's become the fastest selling single ever.
Though the song raised 6 million, it would hardly make an impact.
'There's not enough food for half these people.
'Rumours of a shipment can set off panic.'
Geldof decided he would need to do better, and set about organising
the biggest rock concert the world had ever seen.
You've got to get on the phone and take the money out of your pocket.
Don't go to the pub tonight, please stay in and give us the money.
There are people dying NOW! So give me the money.
# I can't believe the news today
# I can't close my eyes, Make it go away... #
Today's Live Aid worldwide concert has already
raised at least £30 million for the starving
people of Africa, and the phones are still buzzing.
To get this unprecedented response from the public, the campaign
had to be clear and simple.
But had it become too simple?
There is a moral imperative for us to act
when those type of things happen.
But what I don't appreciate is that the imagery from these tragic
situations becomes the main image of Africa.
It is so damaging, psychologically, to a whole continent,
a whole population of people, to portray them in this manner.
It is basically laced with pity.
Are you ready, guys?
For me, it was a campaign of white people coming on horses to
rescue the poor black people, and I did not like that.
# Feed the world... #
The concerts did, though, succeed in one thing, getting the public
to care about people in Africa in a way that had never been seen before.
It was a game-changing phenomenon
because it was the first time ordinary people around the rich
world woke up to the realities of hunger elsewhere.
Now that then awoke politicians to the news that actually,
their own electorates,
who wanted not just to reach into their own pockets,
but wanted their governments to do something about it.
and governments donated over 1 billion to Ethiopia,
and food and supplies began flooding into the country.
When you think of things like Band Aid, Live aid,
the degree to which they enable their governments to either
continue generous aid or to increase the aid, that is
the more impactful part, harder to measure, of the events than
the specific dollar amount that was raised during the event.
Their response was quite incredible.
I believe that it saved millions of lives.
Almost everybody would have died had that aid not reached that area.
But the food given would not solve anything long-term.
What was to be done now?
Myself and Ally spent, I think, five weeks in Ethiopia
after Live Aid, working, didn't tell anyone.
And on the way home, something inside of us knew there's more to
extreme poverty than unfortunate circumstances.
A major reason behind Africa's difficulties
was the rich world itself.
It was the height of the Cold War, and both East
and West were using aid
and massive loans as a hidden reward for friendly dictators in Africa.
By the '90s, with the Cold War over, the West demanded that
The sums were so huge that little money was left for anything else.
Still, the rich nations refused to face up to their own responsibility.
It was a hugely current debate in the academic and policy world.
It wasn't any kind of a debate in the public world.
And I thought, you know, is there some way of going to
the people who had put together the Live Aid and Band Aid concerts,
Bob Geldof, people like Bono, and say to them, "Look, did you know
"that the country for which you raised that money, every year
"has to spend more repaying debts than you raised for them?"
I think what was so important about Jamie Drummond's call to me
was that subject, which was a wound not fully closed
over from Ethiopia opened up again.
Live Aid and Band Aid had been,
if you like, the Band-Aid solution, and now we're going to the real
heart of the matter. We're not just going to raise money through
charity concerts, we're going to actually solve this problem.
Bono called me about doing the debt campaign and he said,
"What do you think we should do?"
So I said, "Use your influence,"
cos the cult of celebrity was now a currency,
you could spend that currency.
And I had this idea to try and use the British Music Awards,
the British equivalent of the Grammys, to communicate this
extremely complicated issue of debt cancellation
and drop the debt to a mainstream, popular TV audience.
OK. Have a look at this, ladies and gentlemen.
You know, Bono's quite worried. How is he going to talk about
debt cancellation to a bunch of teeny boppers
and people tuning in to watch their pop star favourites?
The banks won't cancel the debts
unless the politicians tell the banks to do that, and the
politicians won't tell the banks unless we tell them to do that.
So that's why I am here. Are you with me?
You know, I was in the audience at the Brits, watching it all unfold.
He says, "Are you in?"
And part of us are all thinking,
"No, they're not going to be in. It's going to be a disaster."
We have a chance, a once-in-a-millennium chance to change the world,
and we have with us tonight somebody who has already changed
the world. Mohammed Ali is with us tonight. He's in the building!
On your feet!
A fake award was given to Mohammed...
-Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed...
..and the crowds and the music and the coverage!
It was unbelievable.
-Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed...
We hijaked the Brits.
On all these different levels, it just worked beautifully.
But we also needed to get global coverage.
This is Sir Geldof, who organised a major
campaign against famine in Ethiopia.
Unexpected bedfellows. That's what we do.
This is Mr Bono, who is a singer.
'That's how to get attention in the media.'
He has a gift for you.
My glasses, I give to you!
Get the Pope wearing your sunglasses. Now that's...
And suddenly, we had momentum.
-What do we want? Stop the debt! When do we want it? Now!
'Public disgust at the rich world's demands for repayment
'from the poor world spilled onto the streets of Cologne this
'summer at a meeting of the group of eight industrial nations.'
This was the moment the campaigners had been aiming for,
all the most powerful leaders in one room.
But the politicians would still need to be convinced.
We were in Cologne at the G8 summit and Bono and Geldof's
celebrity status was something that politicians so desperately wanted.
They'd do almost anything to get it.
They want pictures with the stars.
I mean, even back in '85,
most of the day in Congress was spent shaking hands
with Congressmen for their local Congressional newspaper, most of it.
Half of them hadn't a clue who I was, but they put it in there.
We had a row about whether or not the G8 had done enough,
and about whether or not it was appropriate for Bono
and Geldof to have their photograph taken with Tony Blair, who was
going to say, "Look, here I am with these guys,
"and therefore that shows I'm a good guy and I've done it."
Well, actually, they hadn't quite done it.
We sat and talked for a long time about whether we'd smile or not
cos we didn't feel like smiling because he hadn't given us anything.
But if we smiled, you know, then there had to be a price.
You know, I mean, it's nonsense!
Fame and celebrity helped, and big promises on debt reductions
were extracted from every G8 nation, except the most important one.
But Bono had special connections.
Clinton and Bono's relationship went back to Northern Ireland.
For most of the '90s, Bono was very
involved in campaigning on Northern Ireland.
And Clinton was very involved in peace in Northern Ireland and
they developed a strong relationship through a lot of that work.
While Geldof stayed behind to continue
working on the European campaign, Bono went to see his old friend.
I remember sitting in front of President Clinton, pitching him
debt cancellation, and he's got a lot on his mind. It's in the
middle of a terrible time for him, everything was going pear-shaped.
You can't just turn up and ask a President to do something.
You have to go out, solving their problems for them.
So I just said, "Umm... Mr President,
"you're going to be leader of the free world on New Year's Eve, on the
"night as we turn from one millennium into the other. You must have
"some amazing speech planned, you must have some big announcement?"
I just notice him looking at me like,
CLINTON'S ACCENT: "Just talk to me a little bit about this thing.
"So there's an announcement and we're going to cancel these debts
"and it's a justice issue."
And I could just see him warming up.
We were sitting inside the IMF meetings.
And we saw Clinton come up onto the podium,
and you know how you listen in the background? "Murmur, murmur."
We all must provide our fair share of financing the global debt relief.
Today, I am directing my administration to make it possible
to forgive 100% of the debt these countries owe to the United States.
I can't tell you. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
Bono came to Washington and met with Bill Clinton and said,
"We really need to cancel these debts."
And Bill Clinton said, "Great! Let's do it."
And Bono thought, "Great! My work is done."
What he didn't realise at that time is, of course, there were
535 other people that he had to convince,
in this case, the US Congress.
There's the really bizarre moment when you discover
the President of the United States, he's not in charge.
That was a real moment for me.
It was plain that we needed to persuade America to
lead on this issue.
Bobby Shriver came in and introduced Bono and all of us
to his family business, which is American politics.
His uncle had been President, you know, JFK, Bobby Kennedy.
This pretty amazing pedigree in this family.
Certainly, in democratic politics, Bobby could certainly
introduce us to some people.
In America, you only get one chance to make your first impression,
and I knew that, looking at myself,
and to some extent, looking at Bono, that people would look at it...
They would have a meeting but they might think...
"These guys are going to come in to play the violin."
Do you know what I mean?
We absolutely could not have that happen.
We had to come in and have the people think, "Oh my God!
"These guys are serious,
"they're not going to go away and they're going to win."
I knew almost immediately that I was out of my depth.
This was economics and I'm a singer in a rock 'n' roll band,
so I had to go to school.
We needed to know about how the financing in the Congress was
going to work, what the World Bank's position was, what the
IMF's position was, and we needed to know that in real, thorough detail.
A very good friend of mine was the head of the World Bank,
so when I said to him, "I'm bringing this musician friend of mine and we
"need to go to graduate school right away and really get to know this,"
he said, "Well, OK."
People in Washington DC, I think they liked the data-based
and evidence-based approach,
but we didn't have the fiscally Conservative Republicans on side.
The powers in congress thought foreign aid was a waste of money
and that Africa was so poor that it was of no interest.
But there were exceptions.
Some positive things popped up that you would never have expected.
Like John Kasich. I mean, he was an act of God.
He was an important member of the hard-core Republicans,
hard-core, and he himself was very furious about matters.
I agreed that I would...
I'd help him to advance this cause.
But tromping around Capitol Hill with pop stars and celebrities,
it wasn't some popular idea.
I remember Bono saying to me,
"Why won't these Congressmen meet with me?"
And I said, "You know, Bono, people don't really like foreign aid."
And if you're a Representative, you don't go back home and say,
"Well, you know, I just forgave a lot of debt in Africa."
That doesn't get you any cheers.
In fact, it can get you a primary opponent.
What happened was, frankly, a lot of the Congressmen
and even some of the Senators didn't really care about meeting
with him, but all the staff did.
And there'd be all these staff people standing
out in the hallway, and, you know, a lot of them
were like, "You've got to meet with him."
He could get into any office in the Senate
cos the assistants out there would say,
"That's Bono. I would need his autograph. We're going to get him in."
And, of course, when we're in, we're meeting people,
we're meeting the Chief of Staff.
And we're not giving it the, "Oh, yeah.
"You're the... the enemy." We're not playing that game.
Yeah. Bring him in.
Bono flew from Ireland to be here,
and he has been, without question, the most dedicated
and driving force behind this whole initiative from day one.
After intense lobbying, the US congress agreed to a compromise,
to cancel half of Africa's debt.
This led to the rest of the rich world doing the same.
We were ecstatic.
But for good luck or maybe the grace of God, this thing came through.
'Tonight, in London's Trafalgar Square, a celebration.'
No longer is the fourth richest country
on the planet a nation of spivs,
debt collectors, bailiffs and repo men.
In Africa, there were fewer celebrations.
African debt was so enormous that much of it could in fact
never have been repaid.
Having half the debt written off on paper made Western
politicians look good without actually costing them much,
and still left huge amounts owing.
Many Africans did not feel the benefits.
It was a triumph to get the creditors to face reality,
so quite a lot of the debt forgiveness
was just that facing of reality.
It was useful, but it wasn't actually a new transfer
of resources to Africa because the debt could not have been repaid.
The people living in villages don't see this effect.
They don't see that.
It's nice, on the newspaper, said
our debt of, you know, how many millions has been cancelled.
But it doesn't mean that, you know, now we cancelled our debt,
let's build schools. It doesn't happen.
The problem and the mistake that people have made
is in thinking this is the silver bullet,
and everything will be all right and there will be no more poverty.
Aid and debt relief are not a silver bullet.
They're an important element of the package, but I don't even think
they're the most important element of the package.
Debt relief was just the first step.
Undaunted by the complexities of reducing poverty,
Bono and Geldof decided to continue on their quest.
When we saw that we could be effective,
it was very hard then to go away again,
back to a normal life, back to your civilian life,
which I really wanted to do and which my band really wanted me to do.
This time, to make a bigger dent on poverty, Bono
and his group would plan a stronger attack.
They began to plot their master plan for Africa.
They would not only fight to have all remaining debt abolished,
but would also fight disease, increase aid,
and achieve fair trade agreements with Africa.
They decided to set themselves up as lobbyists in Washington DC.
But to do this, they would need lots of money.
I got a phone call and it was Bobby Shriver.
He was yelling into the phone about,
"We're doing something and you and Bill Gates should really be involved
"and we need a million dollars!"
I thought he was a little crazy!
He said to me a few times, "Bono would like to meet you."
And I thought, "Well...
"Hey, I'm serious about poverty and the numbers
"and what has impact, and he's a musician.
"That's not going to be a high priority for me."
I arranged a meeting for them in Bill's suite
at the Waldorf Astoria in New York,
and I was terrified that this meeting was not going to go well.
Even though he had this utterly different background,
I was amazed that he understood about government aid and understood
this debt relief and what had been going on with that very well.
So I went back to Melinda and I said, "Hey, Bono's amazing!"
I was blown away.
So were philanthropists George Soros
and Ed Scott, who each chipped in another million.
You have to start with the belief that a big thing can happen,
and everyone in that group came from that kind of a tradition.
In the name of Africa's poor, a lobbying agency was founded
The goal was to take on the most powerful
politicians in the United States.
Now you had a major, professional lobby
organisation in Washington. That's so wild an idea, that
a bunch of people, funded by zulty millionaires, are using all
that massive brainpower to focus on the poor and the anomaly of poverty.
Having rich, white, male popstars as spokespeople for the poorest
of Africa wasn't welcomed by everyone.
The fact of the matter is, if you went
and did polls in Europe and the United States
and you asked people, "Who do you think represents African views?"
I would bet you that most people would come up with a long
list of celebrities.
As an African, I think this is fundamentally flawed
and I think we should care about that.
People would prefer to hear from these celebrities
about what's going on in Africa.
That not only undermines the African viewpoint,
it undermines African leadership.
He said that he is ready to give more money.
Why are we voting for African leaders
if their job has been abdicated to other people?
What kind of a system is this?
Thank you for being here...
Bono and Geldof's high profile advocacy has also left some
African activists feeling that their grassroots work is being undermined.
What they do, they go into a G20 or G8 or G7,
go there and hang around, like, have a cup of coffee and
a couple of wines, have a chat into the panel, have a discussion.
And they think that will just make a difference.
But if you wanted to make a difference in Africa,
why are you not speaking to us?
We know the situation on the ground on the grassroots level,
and sometimes we feel insulted, sometimes we feel that even
the progress of Africa has been seeing we've been making progresses,
but people will just use it in a different way.
Bob Geldof, for example, will go and tell you something, you know,
"Because of Live Aid, this has happened."
"You the God and you the Saviour!"
And it doesn't work like that.
In 2002, the catastrophe of AIDS had further set Africa back.
This quickly became the first target for the newly-formed lobby group.
But to make a difference, there was one person of prime importance
they would need to win around,
the new President of America.
When Bush transition was happening, there were no life-saving
drugs in Africa.
It was condoms, basically. It was a condom strategy,
and it was small-scale.
In an epidemic where one in five people were infected
and people were dropping like flies, it was like throwing
a drop of water on a blazing fire.
Let us pray.
The richest nation on the globe could change all this
because antiretroviral drugs had just become available.
But the religious Conservatives didn't want to.
They were against spending money on what
they thought was a disease caused by self-inflicted sinning.
There was a big block of Christians who supported President Bush
and we thought about who they were, how to find them,
what their arguments were.
We did a lot of thinking about that.
No federal funds can be used to encourage or promote
homosexual, sexual activity.
There was a major nemesis. There was Jesse Helms,
who was the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Jesse, the arch-Conservative icon in America...
icon in America,
who had openly basically said, "This virus is evil."
In a sense that...
From even a faith-based religious standpoint, this is just bad.
Edge, he said, you know, "Please don't have the Old, Cold Warrior,
"don't be in a photograph with him."
And I said, "Edge, not only am I in a photograph with him,
"I've invited him to the show!"
And he's like, "Ohhh!"
We constantly talked about the carrot and the stick.
If a right-wing Republican Congressperson, who had always said,
you know, "Foreign aid was throwing money down a rat hole,"
that we would find a way to co-op that person,
bring them into our world,
and then show them that there were benefits to being in that world.
# You shine like a burning star
# Falling from the sky... #
I sat next to Jesse Helms, and it was quite an experience!
They had this VIP room before the concert where everybody gathers
and presses flesh.
And the Senators were acting like 13-year-old girls, trying to
get up to see him and shake his hand.
It was very interesting to sit in the background
and just watch it and say, "My God!" You know?
And the faces of these politicians, you know,
when they look into the arena, and everyone is cheering for them,
it's the highlight of their lives.
Jessie Helms goes to a rock show and, afterwards, I ask him,
"What was that like?"
He said, "I looked out there," he said.
"Everyone has got their hands in the air.
"They were blowing like a field of corn."
And I just thought it was the most beautiful image, actually,
of people with their hands in the air, I'd never heard it like that.
Having the ear of the religious right,
Bono and Shriver now went to work reframing the AIDS debate.
We knew that certain people in the Congress
did not like the men having sex with men issue.
But, they liked that idea that a woman breast-feeding her baby
could take a pill that would prevent the baby from getting AIDS
from the milk, or from the childbirth.
Jesse listened and, with that, over time, his feeling,
especially on the mother to child transmission,
and built around orphans, was totally transformed.
I just want to say something about Senator Helms.
He said he was ashamed of
how he had thought about AIDS in the wider world.
Jessie has been a real leader on this subject. >
He is the leader.
-Ha, no, no, no.
-He's the leader.
It was Jessie Helms who helped introduce Bono and Bobby to President Bush.
Bono is a person of faith.
George W Bush is a person of faith.
So, he did a very smart thing.
He brought with him an Irish Bible as a gift for the President.
They spent the first five, 10 minutes of their personal relationship
talking about the meaning of faith in their lives.
And they talked about how the Scriptures talk about
the care for the poor almost more than any other topic in the Bible
which, really, I think struck a chord with the President.
Bono, I appreciate your heart.
And, to tell you what an influence you've had,
Dick Cheney walked in the Oval Office, he said,
"Jessie Helms wants us to listen to Bono's ideas."
POLITE LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Many of the Republican faithful, they're wondering,
what is President Bush doing on stage with an Irish rock star
with long hair and weird sunglasses, why is that happening?
Honestly the night before that interaction,
we were in a hotel suite, and Condi Rice was pushing, pushing, pushing
to get Bono to show up at that event.
Here's what I know about him.
First, he's a good musician.
Secondly, he is willing to use his position in a responsible way.
After 9/11, the Bush administration, especially Condoleezza Rice,
wanted to prove that the administration's response
to the problem of terrorism was not simply military.
And that meant the use of aid. OK, how do we do that?
Well, here comes Bono, who's just created DATA.
And he says, in effect,
"I am willing to shed some of my liberal credibility,
"my liberal rock star credibility, on you."
We just had a meeting with the President of the United States
about the emergency of AIDS.
It is the crumbs off our table that we offer these countries,
and it is not good enough.
The President of the United States doesn't think it's good enough.
We were exploiting the compassionate conservatism Bush needed us for.
They needed us, we needed them.
We were both in the right space at the right time.
But politics wasn't the sole reason Bush was playing along.
He himself wanted to do something big about the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
President Bush hadn't travelled very much to other countries,
never been to Africa before.
So he would very quietly send people to Africa and say, "Is this real?
"I mean, is it really 23 million people have died,
"and nobody is leading on it?"
And they came back and said, "Yes".
When he saw that there was a possibility
of actually improving significantly the situation in Africa,
he gave it priority.
And, when he gave it priority,
then it became all the rest of our priority.
-Mr Speaker. The President of the United States.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Today, on the continent of Africa,
nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus.
Yet, across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims,
only 50,000 are receiving the medicine they need.
I ask the Congress to commit 15 billion over the next five years
to turn the tide against AIDS
in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean.
The new initiative would save the lives
of millions of AIDS patients in Africa.
But Bush had more on his mind.
If you look at the speech,
the five or six paragraphs on an emergency plan on AIDS
immediately precede, "We are going to war with Iraq."
We will bring to the Iraqi people food,
and medicines, and supplies,
Death and destruction!
From a political, tactical perspective,
putting forward this compassionate conservative agenda served him,
and Bono gave Bush a seal of approval, if you will.
Even though people said, you know, "George Bush is using you."
I beg to differ. I think we used him.
And I think he wanted to be used, it turned out, in that way.
I think we found that piece of him that wanted to show the world
what he was for, as well as what he was against.
Just a few months after the speech, Geldof set off to Ethiopia
and arrived in the midst of yet another drought and famine.
-Today, 12 million Ethiopians cannot feed themselves.
Children reduced to scavenging.
When Geldof came home,
he found that NGOs around the globe had started to plan a new campaign,
what they hoped would be the campaign of the decade.
Britain would soon be hosting the eight richest nations,
the G8, in 2005.
The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was for change,
and was already in secret dialogue with some of the activists.
I went to lots of the NGOs, and tried to persuade them that,
if they came together, and they led a worldwide pressure,
then we, the British government, could be in a position
to persuade other governments as well.
With the British government on board, Geldof, Bono, and Drummond
decided this was their chance for an all-out attack on poverty.
They would add their voices to the campaign
and, this time, really make poverty history.
All African debt should be abolished, aid doubled,
and international trade rules completely reformed.
Now, you were in another game.
Now, you were really in whole other universes of possibility.
This was the national government programme
for the president of the G8. Poverty in Africa.
That's it. We'd got there.
-The aim could hardly be more ambitious,
to drive poverty from the world.
What was breathtaking was how Bobby and Bono set such a high goal.
I said, "Whoa, there hasn't been a new aid programme of that scale
Poverty is not natural.
It is man-made.
And it can be overcome.
With the stakes so high,
Geldof would have to put up with some uncomfortable bedfellows,
such as Ethiopia's president, Meles Zenawi.
On British television screens,
you would have seen pictures of Blair and Geldof and Meles Zenawi
talking about making poverty history.
If you had watched TV in Africa,
you would have seen Ethiopian troops shooting dead
over 200 opposition supporters on the streets of Addis Ababa
who were protesting a massive stolen election.
Yes, I've got to meet a guy I know puts down the opposition,
imprisons people without trial.
Yes, you have to bring it up.
But you also have to deal with the reality that
that person isn't going to go, "You know, Bob, you're right.
"I'm going to free them all up, and I'm gonna leave power." No.
They can dismiss me as just a pop singer, you know.
While the British government gave its support,
internationally, the campaign was failing to catch fire.
No matter what they say, Make Poverty History wasn't working.
So, we went to Blair, and he literally looked at me like this,
and said, "I'll do the politics, but you do the public.
"And if you can't do the public, the politics won't happen."
That was exactly what he said.
I don't know how it happened,
but Bob turned up one day with his mobile phone at my office.
And I thought, "Well, I wonder if I can be part of the emotional,
"artistic, creative side of it?"
So we had to just come up with stuff that would affect
and emotionally challenge people.
-A child dies completely unnecessarily
as a result of extreme poverty every three seconds.
What we had set ourselves was to make this thing happen.
And, as such, to make every politician who turned up
aware of the fact that people in their country were aware of it,
that there was a win to be had by supporting this issue.
We can start to make poverty history.
And then, finally, very late, Bob thought of the Live 8 idea.
-20 years ago, he launched Live Aid.
Today, Bob Geldof unveiled the follow-up, Live 8.
A series of concerts around the world in July
to coincide with the G8 meeting, in Gleneagles,
of the world's richest nations.
It is the greatest collection of stars there has ever been.
And it will never, ever, this will never ever happen again.
Geldof's Live 8 concerts grabbed world attention
on the eve of the G8 summit.
CAMERA SHUTTERS CLICK
But, this time, engaging the public was a means to an end.
Now, he was amassing a worldwide pressure group
to appeal directly to those in power.
I didn't want to raise money,
because that would divert from the central political message.
It was no longer about cash.
It was about the lobby only.
-Bob wants to show you something.
Some of you were here 20 years ago,
and some of you weren't even born.
I want to show you, just in case you forgot, why we did this.
Just watch with me this film.
DISTRESSED VOICES IN BACKGROUND
Before the concerts, Geldof had found out
that the girl who almost died in front of the world media in 1984
had survived, thanks to international aid.
When Geldof finally met Birhan, he saw an opportunity.
Geldof immediately realized what a wonderful media event it was.
It sort of validated everything he'd been banging on about for two decades.
She had 10 minutes to live, 20 years ago.
And, because we did a concert in this city and in Philadelphia,
she's here tonight, this little girl.
Birhan comes on, looking like a princess
and everybody suddenly realized why they were there.
We come to you, with 3.8 billion people in our back pockets.
Tell me, how can these eight men refuse us now?
How can they refuse us?
The eight top politicians signed up,
not only to cancelling remaining debt,
but also to doubling aid with 25 billion
So, was this a success on aid? 10 out of 10.
On debt? Eight out of 10.
Today is a great day.
However, the politicians almost halved their promises on aid,
and left really important issues, like trade, untouched.
Had they managed to get away without quite footing the bill?
If all you have managed to do
is to get a little bit more money out of the G8,
you know, actually, that you haven't got to the root of the problem.
The difference has to be made through changing the rules,
and completely restructuring the global economy.
if economic growth and poverty reduction are their motivations,
they have failed miserably.
There is far too much hubris going around.
"Oh, we think we can do this, we're going to change the world!"
Let's have a bit more humility about what we can achieve.
It annoyed people because it looked so simplistic.
That was just the pop song, that was just the T-shirt,
that was the hook line.
You can't write off a movement that has changed the world
because of its slogan.
It was the biggest breakthrough in one summit ever on poverty.
Millions more children now live who would have died.
40 million more children go to school.
The breakthroughs on malaria, on HIV and AIDS,
have been to do with these big campaigns
that millions of people have taken part in.
It was a big step forward, even if it wasn't everything.
Has that aid led to a larger number of people having access
to education and health, and clean water, and roads, and housing,
and food when they need it? It almost certainly has.
So, it hasn't made poverty history,
but it's made a hell of a lot of people's lives a lot better
as a consequence of what they did.
Since 2005, Africa has become much more peaceful.
Extreme poverty is finally slightly decreasing.
And, in a transformed Ethiopia,
school attendance has increased dramatically.
Birhan Woldu, now a mother herself,
is a director of a charity that helps build new schools.
You have got a lot of problems.
But, nonetheless, the reality is that Ethiopia is
one of the fastest growing economies of Africa
and six African countries are among the fastest-growing
top 12 economies in the world.
How much of all this is due to the efforts of Bono and Geldof
is harder to say.
Even today, it's difficult to ascertain
the true economic impact of aid.
I'm pretty uncomfortable attributing too much of Africa's success
to what we've done.
And certainly, too much of Africa's success to money that we've given.
We are side players.
We are not the drivers.
They are the drivers, and they are going to do it themselves.
And what we have to do is find ways of being good partners.
The targets for lobbying are also changing.
They aren't always about matters of life and death now.
Instead, there are issues, such as more openness in trade deals,
and how to make agriculture in Africa more effective.
Sir Bob Geldof, musician, chair of Band Aid and Live Aid...
After nearly 30 years of campaigning,
the role that Bono and Geldof have to play in Africa's future
is under more scrutiny than ever.
What is this? Is it like a 10 second thing, or a 20 second thing?
Like a 30, 40 second thing. >
For the time being, it is still the case that,
when you're trying to develop constituency
in North America or Europe, to help fight poverty in Africa,
you're going to often, still, resort to working with famous friends.
It's a travesty that that is the world we live in,
but it is the world we live in.
Africa has changed a lot, and they are very mature now, people,
and they know what they want.
Bono's lobbying organization, DATA, now renamed ONE,
does have African advisers,
and offices have been set up in Nigeria and South Africa.
So now we have a situation where
African activists are harassing their own governments.
So, that's exciting to me, because that's nothing to do with us.
And, I hope, soon, you know, a rock 'n' roller in his 50s
will just be told to fuck off. And, with pleasure.
Because this stuff is just happening anyway. That would be a thrill.
Get an insight into the trend of celebrities campaigning against poverty
and find out more by going to:
And following links to the Open University.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Documentary taking an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at 30 years of Bob Geldof and Bono's campaign against poverty. Their work has made them icons of aid and even garnered them Nobel Peace Prize nominations, but what impact has it really had on Africa? Through archive footage and candid new interviews with key players including Geldof, Bono and Bill Gates, the film re-examines three decades of unprecedented campaigns and scrutinises the effectiveness of celebrity-led activism.
Nearly 30 years ago, two young pop singers set out to challenge the world. Their aim - to use their celebrity status to end poverty in Africa. After Bob Geldof instigated a chart-topping charity single and staged one of the biggest rock concerts ever seen, he and Bono joined forces and went on to build a multi-million dollar lobbying organisation. Along the way, they hi-jacked the Brits, enlisted IT billionaires, fashion models and academics, won over the wiliest of politicians, lobbied world leaders and put the politics of poverty firmly on the international agenda. They raised vast sums for charity and persuaded western powers to dramatically reduce third world debt.
But did they really help make poverty history in Africa? What impact has their work really had on economic growth and poverty reduction? And if they haven't made poverty history, has their campaign at least been responsible for a big step forward?
A BBC Storyville film, produced in partnership with the Open University, the film screens as part of Why Poverty? - when the BBC and the OU, in conjunction with more than 70 broadcasters around the world, hosts a debate about contemporary poverty.