Sunday, August 07, 2005

Musicians Ready to Rock at Niger Aid Concert

IOL -- A month after the international Live 8 concerts were staged to raise awareness of Africa's plight, West African musicians are holding one of their own - in Niger on Sunday to raise money for millions of people facing starvation.

The concert, dubbed "Music Against Hunger", was organised by Niger's first lady, Laraba Tandja, wife of this desert nation's President Mamadou Tandja. Heavy rains forced organisers to postpone the outdoor concert by a day. It had originally been scheduled for Saturday.

"It's to bring support to people who've been victimised by the famine," said Habibou Issa, a communications ministry adviser. "It will also show how culture and art can express the solidarity" of those suffering.

The United Nations says the combined effects of drought and crop-destroying locusts have left more than three million people here facing severe food shortages. Children are most at risk, with 800 000 under the age of five who need to be fed urgently.

The concert is to be held later Saturday in the capital, Niamey. The venue is a 50 000-capacity stadium, the country's biggest.

Issa said entrance fees will be donated to a government body in charge of dealing with the food crisis and helping co-ordinate relief.

The Live 8 concerts were held around the world in early July, most notably in London and Philadelphia. They were organised by Irish rocker Bob Geldof, who raised millions for famine relief with his 1980s Live Aid concerts, which came in response to a 1984 famine in Ethiopia that left one million people dead.

On stage in Niamey will be Niger's Ka Idan Kaskiya, Goumbe Statr and Amadou Konate. Other musicians from West Africa are expected, including Ivory Coast's Alain Kouassi.

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