NEKESA MUMBI MOODY
NEW YORK - As more celebrities get involved in helping African
nations overcome debt, AIDS and poverty, some cynics have questioned
whether their motives are spurred by good intentions or publicity -
most notably, with Madonna's recent trip to Malawi to adopt a child.
Alicia Keys, who is hosting her annual Black Ball charity concert in
New York City on Thursday, says such criticism is unfair and a
disservice to those in Africa who need help.
"I think that's horrible, and I think that really degrades and tries
to discourage people who do have a voice, who do have power, who do
have money, who do have the ability to reach out to people and get
involved in situations," the 25-year-old R&B singer told The
Associated Press in a recent interview.
"I think if you make a choice to do something positive, that
shouldn't be diminished. I think that takes away from what's
actually going on."
Keys, who has been involved in African causes for years, said
celebrities have been in the forefront of charitable and political
causes, and that's how it should be. She also said celebrities have
helped direct attention to the problems in many African nations.
"I do think that it has become more on people's radars, whereas
before it kind of came across as, `Oh, it's so far away,'" she said.
"It's really positive to know that it is a global community."
Keys is hosting the Black Ball concert with supermodel Iman to
benefit Keep a Child Alive, which provides drugs for AIDS and HIV
patients. The event will include performances by Keys; Iman's
husband, David Bowie; Damian Marley; and Angelique Kidjo.
Keys, who visited Africa earlier this year, said the problems that
beset some countries can seem insurmountable, but she's seen how
charity can save lives.
"That's why when I speak and I use my voice, I like to emphasize the
way that everyday people like you and me ... can really be a huge
hero," she said. "If you don't do anything else in your life, if you
can save one life - one life? It's amazing. Imagine saving 10 or 20
or 50 or 100."
ON THE NET
Keep a Child Alive: http://www.keepachildalive.org
Alicia Keys: http://www.aliciakeys.com/host.html