Published: 23 Sept. 2011
A group of prominent African artists, musicians, and business people have today called on world leaders to take urgent action to prevent further suffering and loss of life in the horn of Africa, ahead of a crucial UN summit in New York this Saturday.
The group, which includes Youssou N'dour, Nameless, Angelique Kidjo, 2face Idibia, Hugh Masekela, Freshly Ground, K'naan, and Bono, has also urged African and other world leaders to keep their promises to invest in long-term agriculture projects and measures to improve food security so that famines can be prevented in future.
The letter, which has been signed by 60 African influencers and entertainment celebrities, together with global celebrities with a passion for Africa from across the world, says:
"A great 21st century tragedy is unfolding right now. The Somali people are now suffering the hardest blow to their bodies and souls. 30,000 children have died in just three months and 13 million people are threatened across Somalia, Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya."
The letter calls on African and world leaders to do three things:
Somalia born musician K'naan said:
"If we are serious about a long term solution to this crisis, it is time to address the fundamental gap between the current proposed system of governance, which has failed 12 times thus far, and the Somali council-based system of governing that has been effective historically. "
Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour said:
"From Dakar to Djibouti, the new Africa must unite as one, our people across the continent, and hold each other, our leaders and the international community accountable for inaction - and bring about urgent action. That's what we are doing together today.
South African Jazz maestro Hugh Masekela said:
"It will be a great day when most world leaders wake up to realize that they are elected into office to serve the people. That their inaugurations should not be mistaken for coronations. When that realization takes place, tragedies such as in the Horn of Africa will cease to exist and humanity will finally enjoy the services it deserves."
Bono, U2 lead singer and cofounder of anti-poverty campaign group ONE, said:
"I'm honored to be backing vocals to this impressive leadership from artists and creatives across the African continent, who are joined together in action against this travesty of a twenty-first century famine."
Dr Sipho Moyo, the Africa Director for ONE, said:
"This letter is a crucial step alongside others to articulate a clear loud voice from the across the continent that we will not stand by and watch our brothers and sisters starve."
Notes to editors:
21 September 2011
Dear African and all world leaders,
A great 21st century tragedy is unfolding right now. The Somali people are suffering the hardest blow to their bodies and souls. 30,000 children have died in just three months and 13 million people are threatened across Somalia, southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.
But what do such numbers even mean? How can numbers this large ever make sense? Can the mind successfully translate to the heart what a number means in pain? Each of these numbers means the endless grief of one father, the crushing pain of one mother. Families will be shattered forever; families just like yours and mine.
And yet the world does not come to a halt. It should. And it can, if we work together as one. We write to appeal to you with urgency, to beseech your hearts and your heads. The upcoming United Nations General Assembly is a key and urgent test of our resolve and sincerity.
We ask of you three practical things which can help turn on the light in this dark hour:
Firstly, thank you for the pledges you already made, but please do all you can to fill the remaining financing gap in emergency needs for the horn of Africa. The needs will only go up as too many of us continue to act with deathly slowness.
Secondly, please invest much more in long term agricultural productivity and food security in the horn and indeed across all Africa, as you have already promised to do through the Maputo and L’Aquila commitments on food security. Please keep these promises with equal urgency.
Thirdly, we must recognize and remedy the regional and national governance failures which have turned a drought into a famine. Please invest more energy and leadership into emergency peace talks which bring together all representatives of Somali society, and regional stakeholders, to give peace another chance and end the cycle of instability.
We appeal to you as one, from across the African continent, the African Diaspora, and around the world.
2face Idibia, singer-songwriter, actor and record producer
Angelique Kidjoe, Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter and activist
Anna Getaneh, founder and creative director of African Mosaique
Banky W, singer, songwriter, producer
Bellanaija, fashion designer
Bobby Boulders, music director
Bono, Co-founder ONE and (RED) and lead singer of U2
Buddha Blaze, artist, content, event and marketing manager
Chimamanda Adichie, author
Criselda Kanada, managing director Positive Talk Services, wellness activist, radio personality
Cynthia Mare, musician
Daddy Owen, musician
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
DJ Neptune, DJ
DJ Pinye, artist manager, DJ
Dr. Richard Mkandawire, Head of Resource Mobilisation, Partnerships and Communications, NEPAD
Dr. Xiaoyun Li, International Poverty Reduction Centre
El Dee, rapper, record producer and architect
Eric Wainaina, musician, producer, writer
Festus Mixwell, DJ
General Pype, singer, song writer
Graça Machel, Mozambican politician and humanitarian
Hugh Masekela, musician and singer
Idris Elba, actor and DJ
J Martins, producer and artiste
Jocelyn Muhutu, Remy-media account manager, Reuters, South Africa
John Ulanga, executive director Foundation for Civil Society, Tanzania
Julie Gichuru, television anchor Royal Media
Khanyisile Zwane, senior account director, Ogilvy
Kinabuti, fashion designer
Lola Ogunnaike, features entertainment journalist
Naeto C, musician
Natasha Siame, property developer
Obi Asika, CEO, Storm Media 360
Olisa Adibua, media personality
Ory Okolloh, Google Africa policy manager
Patricia Amira, talk show host
Robert Marawa, sports anchor
Russell Simmons, producer and fashion designer
Russell Wildeman, program manager, IDASA
Sahr Ngaujah, theatre director and actor
Sasha P, hip hop artists and fashion designer
Sauti Sol, multi award winning acoustic band
Simphiwe Dana, musician
Sound Sultan, musician
Sunny Neji, musician
Tiken Jah Fakoly, musician
Timi Dakolo, musician
Tunde and Wunmi Obe, musicians
Whiz Kid, music
Youssour N'Dour, singer and percussionist