Two million people dying of Aids every day, one million living with contaminated water, and millions going to bed hungry, didn't seem such a remote prospect in the smallest of the Live 8 celebrations. The fact that this was always going to be one of the most dynamic shows was never in question. Comforting though it was to hear Sir Paul McCartney and Bono singing "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", it was nothing compared to seeing the exiled Zimbabwean superstar Thomas Mapfumo asking for an end to Mugabe's dictatorship. His invigorating Chimurenga (revolution) style, electric-mbira-driven set struck a chord with many, as did the music of the Mozambique-born fado singer Mariza, the Senegalese hip-hop collective Daara J, the Touareg bluesmen Tinariwen, and the Sudanese hip-hop star (and former child soldier) Emmanuel Jal.
The only African star that managed to make it to Hyde Park was Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. He remains one of Africa's biggest international stars, but true to Geldof's ethos of only giving crowds the obvious, he flew in to the Eden Project and appeared on stage with Dido to sing "Seven Seconds", before returning the favour on her best-loved tune, "Thank You". Cynicism aside, the collaboration worked extremely well: Dido's voice is stronger than many would imagine, and she complemented N'Dour perfectly. It made you wonder why more of thiswasn't happening: why not have Angelique Kidjo collaborating with Coldplay, or Uganda's Geoffrey Oreyama on stage with REM? This would not have had millions switching off, as Geldof feared, especially as the cult of personality would not have been completely stripped away.
Highlights included Kidjo being joined by a host of African artists on her biggest hit, "Tumba", N'Dour dedicating a new song to free trade for Africa, Oreyama dueting with Gabriel on a track from his classic album Exile, the appearance of the legend Thomas Mapfumo, Kanda Bongo Man's life- affirming Soukous soaked set, and an emotional rendition of "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" to draw proceedings to a close. Africa Calling may have felt like Live 8's conservatory, but it had the truest heart of all.Reuse content