July 2010 marks 25 years of Live Aid, when 80,000 people gathered in London for a pop concert, organised by Bob Geldof and his friends.
Live Aid wanted to bring to the world’s attention the plight of Ethiopians as they faced a devastating famine. But for me, as an eight-year-old girl living in Addis Ababa, I remember the difference the drought brought to my family.
For most people in the capital, 1985 brought the introduction of rice to our menu. Teff, a grain which is used to make our main staple food Injera was scarce in the market. So we were forced to buy rice instead. There are people who still consider rice as food for tough times and despise it.
Twenty five years after Live Aid, people may question the effectiveness of aid. Whether it’s the generosity of a stranger giving thousands of miles away or western government contributions, for me the simple truth is that it saves and improves lives.
It is true that accountability and transparency are important and systems must be put in place to ensure that this happens. But given the context of my country and dynamics in 1985, I believe Live Aid’s imperative to save the lives of children, mothers and fathers was achieved.
At the same time, the global image of famine that was sent around the world also wrongly marked Ethiopia with the perennial image of drought.
After 25 years, those who haven’t been to the country still consider Ethiopia as an arid land with dying children and are oblivious to the many positives in the country. But it pains me more to think that there are still people who are vulnerable here and in other parts of the world.
Posted by KibneshC