The credit for these achievements doesn’t lie with celebrity rockstars, though they’ve certainly helped. It belongs to African citizens and the millions who campaign in solidarity with them such as those who marched for Drop the Debt and Make Poverty History. In their name these African successes should be far better known and they amount to something profound. Jamie Drummond, founder of the ONE campaign tells us about his experience of activism.
As a teenager in the 1980s I experienced three exhilarating moments which shaped my view of activism. I was one of thousands who responded to the call to fight apartheid and enjoy the Free Mandela concert – and then Mandela was freed. We were asked to buy a piece of vinyl, a simple song, a single of solidarity for the hungry in Ethiopia – millions of us did and millions were fed. Then we heard about a crumbling wall of oppression in Berlin – so with friends I got on that train, took a sledge hammer to the Berlin wall, joining a massive party of positive protest.
I am lucky enough to relive that incredible feeling every day, because I co-founded an organisation, the ONE Campaign, whose entire purpose is to help people unite in the fight the injustice of extreme poverty – and be part of history. Just as I got to be tiny part of big change with Live Aid, the anti-apartheid campaign or the Berlin Wall-busting party, so we give our members real opportunities to bust this global injustice.
In 10 years together we’ve helped a series of campaigns go from margins to mainstream and make change happen. The successes don’t always hit the headlines, but they are real. The “publish what you pay” transparency legislation we’re pushing for in the oil and gas sector is now going global. Or take AIDS – when we started 50,000 people in need in Africa had access to life saving drugs – now it’s 6.2million. Or malaria – deaths down by a third in sub-Saharan Africa in a decade. Or child-killing diseases – altogether we’ve campaigned for vaccines which have helped save over 5million lives this last decade. Or Drop the Debt – removal of the debt overhang has helped African leaders put 50m more kids into school and contributed partly to many nations faster economic growth since 2000.
The credit for these achievements doesn’t lie with celebrity rockstars, though they’ve certainly helped. It belongs to African citizens and the millions who campaign in solidarity with them such as those who marched for Drop the Debt and Make Poverty History. In their name these African successes should be far better known and they amount to something profound. The Millennium Development Goal set in 2000 of halving extreme poverty has already been achieved before 2015, the target date. And since Mandela spoke poverty reduction in Africa has also picked up with many African nations driving down poverty reduction rapidly. Globally poverty reduction is now on course to near ZERO by 2030. So we could really be that generation Mandela asked us to be.
Featured Image Credit: Points and Travel