OK, so Beyonce is coming, but what's in it for us?
We love the booty but how can SA capitalise on that Global Citizen moola?
The best news first: it was announced on Monday that South Africans will finally get to see Beyonce perform live again after 15 years of waiting. She appeared alongside U2’s Bono at the 46664 benefit concert in Cape Town then, but her star power has certainly intensified in the elapsed years, and the prospect of witnessing her at her peak is thrilling.
The superstar has traversed an innumerable amount of timezones – playing cities such as Lisbon, Antwerp, Glasgow, Melbourne, San Juan and Detroit, over several gazillion dollar grossing tours – but none of them ever involved this continent.The good news:
As part of the Global Citizen Festival’s activation strategy (the fest is set to be staged in Johannesburg on December 2 2018), interested fans have been asked to sign up to Global Citizen website or app and then recruit friends and family to join them, so they can all partake in an “action journey” by simply tweeting or signing petitions to earn points which can potentially earn them enough to make it into a draw to win free tickets. The more nimble you are on your keyboard, the quicker you can go through the different actions and accumulate as many points as possible – helping Global Citizen with its awareness drive. The prize is to witness music’s powerhouse couple in action – supported by Cassper Nyovest, D’Banj, Ed Sheeran, Eddie Vedder, Femi Kuti, Pharrell Williams and Chris Martin, Sho Madjozi, Tiwa Savage, Usher, and Wizkid. It is a stellar lineup – if not uncomfortably skewed against South African performers.The bad news?
The aim is to raise consciousness around the myriad social issues plaguing our world – and especially third-world countries such as ours. Also to engage with some of the causes championed by Global Citizen: ending poverty, achieving zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation.
But very little of that appreciation the organisers are trying to raise took place, as we all scrambled to learn how we could secure tickets.
Sure, there are retweets everywhere you look – preloaded content and information tagging world leaders to “fill the annual shortfall of health financing and end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2030”.
Also to “remind the Netherlands of its pledge to support GPE to ensure all girls can access menstrual hygiene and a quality education to ensure their health”, and “Thanks to US Congress & Senate for passing the #FY18 budget & protecting #foreignaid funding… #foodforpeace #healthsecurity”.
But there is a lot of prompting and little engagement with the issues Global Citizen wants us to back. Nevertheless, such is the way we view successful campaigns. This has no doubt already been a success for organisers: over 86,000 new signups were bagged in less than a day. That is already almost the capacity of the country’s largest stadium.
The interesting thing is the incentive here is so great: seeing Beyonce and Jay-Z and Ed Sheeran (who has already has a sold out three-date tour of South Africa next year) perform live is a rarity and unattainable for many who idolise them. So this presents an unmissable opportunity; even your passive activism is satisfactory.
A couple of years back Justine Lucas, who is now the executive director at Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation, was the global director of programmes at Global Citizen. She seemed to speak to the realisation that as smart as the model was, our activism was not guaranteed – not beyond the desire to be with our friends and family at a Beyonce and Jay-Z performance.She was quoted as saying: “We hope to get to a place where Global Citizen is a hub for activism in their lives.
“We live in a culture where we’re very distracted. So the festival as a reward mechanism is effective because it grabs people’s attention.”
Last year, while Jeff Radebe was still minister in the Presidency, he wrote an op-ed piece for the Cape Times, addressing his participation at the Global Citizen Festival in Hamburg, Germany. Radebe had been appointed as an ambassador for the Global Citizen movement.
He wrote: “Through my participation at the Global Citizen Festival, I reinforced the view and placed the implementation of the ‘National Development Plan, Vision 2030’ at the centre of the global discourse for making South Africa, Africa and the world a better place.”While I’m unclear about Global Citizen’s future rollout plan in South Africa, it would be interesting to see whether there will be any linkage to the social issues facing us, specifically.
There are the issues of the national health insurance and the hefty financial requirements to upgrade our public health facilities and their accessibility, plus reducing the cost of private healthcare, increasing employment to somewhere near the 24 million envisaged in the NDP document, ensuring effective and affordable public transport, running water, Internet access and literacy.
There should be some greater focus, too, on the safety of some of the most marginalised people in our country, mainly women and children, and LGBTQI people.
People engage more when matters speak to them and their immediate surroundings and circumstances. So, while I would love to see Beyonce and Jay-Z and Coldplay and Pharrell, I’d also love to see Global Citizen and the South African government capitalise on all the attention this announcement has reaped by speaking to us and our local obstacles – and how to tackle them.