Geldof faces fresh criticism over his handling of Live8

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The Independent Culture

Bob Geldof is unrepentant in the row over African artists and Live8 as he continues to face unprecedented criticism over his handling of the global charity concerts.

The musician insisted yesterday that American rappers were the true musical heroes of Africa's youth ­ dismissing his critics who reacted with dismay at the exclusion of African performers from the original line-up.

He said his objective was to "get eyeballs" for the concerts and achieve as big a global television audience for the event as possible.

Speaking in Paris, where he resolved his dispute with the city authorities over the setting of the Live8 France concert, he said: "We need the biggest artists as defined by popularity and sales ... The fact is that most African kids these days listen to Eminem and 50 Cent."

The row over what role African artists should play in the concerts is the most persistent in a stream of controversies to dog the event, and Geldof in particular. Lord Steel, the former Liberal leader, said Geldof was displaying "slight touches of megalomania" over his demands for a million people to descend on Edinburgh during the G8 summit at Gleneagles.

Teachers expressed dismay at his calls for children to play truant from school to attend the demonstration, The Long Walk to Justice. Coastguards were furious when the singer suggested that a flotilla of small boats cross the English Channel ­ one of the world's busiest shipping lanes ­ to ferry continental demonstrators to the march. Police were also taken by surprise when he let slip that people without tickets would be allowed into Hyde Park for the main concert.

The former international development secretary Clare Short added her voice to the critics. She told BBC's Question Time: "There is something wrong with the lack of African music when you've got some very famous African musicians now ­ it is like Bob Geldof and Tony Blair are going to save Africa at one meeting."

Geldof has also been criticised by senior music industry figures including the broadcaster Andy Kershaw, Damon Albarn, of Blur and Gorillaz, and the Senegalese singer Baaba Maal. Writing in The Independent this week Kershaw accused the Irish singer of returning to "apartheid" by "corralling" African performers into a separate concert at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Ms Short also questioned whether the concerts would do anything to help the poor in Africa. "People will enjoy the concerts because there are famous bands but quite how the concerts are going to eliminate poverty in the world is not clear," she said.

But as Geldof resolved his row with the French, who will accommodate the concert at Versailles rather than the Eiffel Tower, there appeared to be problems with the Johannesburg event, which he announced on Thursday. Geldof said he hoped to get Nelson Mandela to appear. Aspokesman for the South African charity Civicus that is dealing with the event there said it was still resolving "participation of key ambassadors".

Concerts will take place in London, Cornwall, Versailles, Philadelphia, Rome, Tokyo and Toronto.

The rows

* Lord Steel accuses Bob Geldof of 'megalomania' for demanding Pope, Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama join campaign

* Teachers furious over his suggestion children play truant from school to attend G8 march

* Coastguards dismayed at plans for a flotilla of boats to cross the English Channel to bring demonstrators to the march

* Clare Short accuses Geldof of going 'way over the top' in his criticism of eBay, where Live8 tickets were being touted

* Police taken by surprise over Hyde Park concert