Covid-19, music events, and the global North

30 May 2020

Würzburg Africafestival

eSwatini Bushfire Festival

Aggregate result

Africafestival/Germany/Europe : Bushfire/eSwatini/Africa
0 : 1

Wasn’t there always talk of “developing countries” vs. the “developed world”? I guess that was right: some countries indeed were developing while others started whingeing more and more, and rested comfortably on their “achievements”, and whinged some more when they were asked to share those, or give back. Pathetic.

On 13th March of this year, Germany had barely realized that Covid-19 wasn’t going to be a mere cough, I put my impression into writing that many of the “keep calm and carry on” posts by German fellows on my FB wall reflect their WEIRD privilege (that of their generation and their Western European background) of never having experienced a major societal catastrophe or turnover. At that time the facts were these:

Germany: no. of cases 3000+, 7 deaths (over the last few days)
Africafestival Würzburg (ca. 80,000 visitors, end of May): still meant to take place

South Africa & eSwatini (Swaziland): no. of cases 24 (all in SA), no deaths
Bushfire Festival (in eSwatini, ca. 26,000 visitors, end of May): postponed to next year

The organizers of the Würzburg Africafestival waited another month, and needed a decision by the German government which came on 15 April, to announce postponement in their newsletter of 17 April. I admire the cautious decisiveness of the organizers of Bushfire, and perhaps the still low infection rates in Africa reflect the relevance of such caution in a pandemic caused by a largely unknown virus.

In the meantime, Würzburg started making available recordings of previous concerts, which is nice, but also something they should do anyway considering how their security guys pester and annoy everyone in the audience to prevent oh-so harmful private videos and photos, even on smartphones, during the evening concerts. I’m not sure these recordings are accessible world-wide – I wouldn’t be surprised if copyright policies of state-owned German tv stations that are behind the recordings and the no-cam policies prevents viewers from outside of Germany to see them online.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWiDOzIhsp9Gb82plk85OjA

The Bushfire people organized an online live event, streamed on 30 May, one of days of the original festival, and available globally for a minimum donation of R 50 (ca. € 2.60). Amongst some live gigs, for instance by one of my favourite acts, Mokoomba, there were also clips of old performances, some online social meetings, and finally DJs who kept the fire burning (fikiswa!) till dawn.

At the same time, the same night, there was the Play Your Part Africa concert, featuring Madala Kunene (SA), Baaba Maal (Mali), Thandiswa “King Tha” Mazwai (SA), hosted by Natalia Molebatsi.

https://www.skyroomlive.com/playyourpartafrica.html?fbclid=IwAR3PEGQn-1F9HVEKKNqhbB6uDGFRSKKLEzPYqcRLmUAxYAWgtbLJi-aLUyc

I’d say, Germany 0 : 2 Africa is more like it, innit?.


My old post of 13 March
Looking at some of the “keep calm and carry on” posts by German fellows on my FB wall I get the sense that this is part of their WEIRD privilege (that of their generation and their Western European background) of never having experienced a major societal catastrophe or turnover. Bless them! Keep calm and carry on can be a good attitude, but it is more convincing when uttered by someone with specific experience. With regard to the Co-Virus, no-one has that experience right now. With some, the attitude may be an expression of denial, a typical reaction to catastrophies, and certainly less harmful than panic. And yet, I get the sense that a major catastrophe is simply unimaginable to these people because they have never been near any. They don’t know shortage, they don’t know panic, they don’t know limits imposed on their liberties, they don’t know … the absence of privilege. Perhaps, and I am not being cynical here, they/we walk away with a healthier view of global realities, and realities of life.

Now, two and half months later, the numbers are

Germany: infections 183,000, recovered 165,000, deaths 8,600
South Africa: 30,967 : 16.116 : 643
eSwatini: 283 : 168 : 2

To have a death rate similar to Germany, SA should have around 5,000 deaths.

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