Fighting Poverty through Music


World musicians team up with a non-partisan campaign and advocacy organisation to launch protest song, urging leaders at G8 summit to take action against poverty

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Jul. 1, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

AS world leaders prepared for the 2013 G8 summit which held in Northern Ireland from June  17-18,  ONE, a nonpartisan campaign and advocacy organisation teamed up with musicians from Africa and other parts of the world to launch a song titled agit8. The song which was launched on June 11,  a week before the summit, was produced in order to urge world leaders attending the summit to take a decisive action against extreme poverty.

Sipho Moyo

The song ‘agit8,’ features an array of famous and award winning musicians from Mali, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, United States of America and United Kingdom. The stars include Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Angelique Kidjo, U2, Vusi Masilela,, Sting, Mumford and Sons, Elvis Costello, Green Day, Ed Sheeran and many more raised their voices to demand action against extreme poverty ahead of the G8 summit. The artists joined the campaign by recording brand new versions of great protest songs, because they believed that protests will lead to progress and bold commitments from world leaders who should be in the fore front of the fight against the injustices of extreme poverty and hunger in the world.

Speaking about the song, Grammy Award–winning Angelique Kidjo, special adviser to agit8, said: “The scandal of extreme poverty and the disgrace of needless child deaths really can be ended, but it won’t happen without action now. Throughout history, we have seen great progress when people join forces to demand change. If enough people add their voices to the chorus of protest, world leaders will be forced to hear us and act.”

Bono, co-founder of ONE,,  said it was an honour for artistes to devote their talents and platforms to fight injustices in the world. He also noted that the idea of using musicians to fight injustice began in the 1970s, when Nelson Mandela called on artistes and bands to use their platform to fight injustice. “This week we are reminded of the words of the great agitator Nelson Mandela who said ‘Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome. Millions of people are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.”

As soon as the idea of a protest song was mooted by ONE, artistes from Japan, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Canada and Belgium and other countries showed interest in teaming up with their colleagues from the globe to make a case against poverty by producing their own version of protest ‘agit8’. Some leading African voices like Amadou and Mariam, Wayna, Vusi Mahlasela, The Brother Moves On, SMOD, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Daby Touré, Baaba Maal, and many others also joined the project. Exclusive videos of their brand new performances of iconic protest songs will soon be available at and on Spotify.

Ed Sheeran, who recorded a new version of Bob Dylan’s classic, “Masters of War” for the campaign said: “Music is a powerful tool in galvanizing people around an issue. There’s no better way to get your point across than to put it in a beautiful song.”


Knowing the power of music as a potent tool for mobilising people to take action, ONE intends to use agit8 to bring about a significant reduction in the number of children estimated to be around 20,000 in various parts of the world dying every day from poverty and hunger. The organisation is doing its bit to ensure that extreme poverty is eliminated by 2030.

Sipho Moyo, ONE’s Africa director, said: “It’s an outrage that today 20,000 children will die needlessly from poverty and hunger. It’s a disgrace that in the richest continent in the world, extreme poverty remains rampant just because of dodgy natural resource deals, leaky budgets and corruption which ultimately take resources away from the fight against poverty and other social interventions. We can stop this by people taking action together now.”

Ahead of the G8 summit, ONE specifically called on the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and other world leaders attending to agree on two things. One is to boost Africa’s food revolution, putting political momentum and transparent and accountable financial support behind the Africa Union CAADP plans to develop agriculture, fight poverty and prevent chronic malnutrition. Secondly, the leaders are to unleash a transparency revolution so that aid, investment, budgets and financial centres all open up to allow citizens and investigators to stamp out corruption and ensure that tax revenues and other money are not lost from the fight against extreme hunger and poverty.

ONE has also collaborated with filmmakers, actors and activists including Richard Curtis, The Found Collective, Chiwetel Ejiofor and People Speak  run by Colin Firth and Anthony Arnove to create a new 30-minute film which celebrates how protest, and its music, have catalysed change and led to progress over the course of history.

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