I'm The Globe and Mail's communities editor, and I'm joined by Globe columnist Sarah Hampson. We'll be your virtual hosts for this event.
Great to be here up on the rooftop of the TIFF Lightbox building. Feels like a wedding up here under a draped tent and with rows of chairs lined up in front of a small stage. People filing in, including media types, Steve Paikin from TVO and business people like Murray Frum and wife Nancy Lockhart. Quite the gathering scene.
Amazing what all the people are wearing. Such a range. From short cocktail dresses and long blown-out hair to women in jeans with ponytails. Must be the film fest vibe.
Gerry Sheff of Gluskin Sheff and Frank McKenna, deputy chair of TD group and former New Brunswick premier all in front rows along with Globe and Mail publisher Phillip Crawley.
A bit of air-kissing, natch. Among the business elite, all of whom know each other because they all go to the same parties. Nancy Lockhart, very glamorous blonde wife of Murray Frum, kiss-kiss with Shanitha Kachan, Gerry Sheff's wife. Shanitha telling me how she and Gerry don't go to a lot of film festival stuff but they like coming to these kind of issue-oriented salon discussions.
Rooftop up here is very film-festy cool. There's a little bed, er, lounging cubby, behind one of the draped walls of the tent. For what, one wonders? In case you meet someone and need a private audience?
Belinda Stronach ex-Liberal, ex-Conservative politician and now Magna executive. Gone is the blonde hair. She's a brunette now. wearing back pants and a short black top. She just asked me what I was doing here. Uh, blogging about you... I mean, about the event.
k'naan was on the stage early on, about 4:30 , practicing with his band, his back turned to the crowd. He's a slim, wiry sight, more pork pie hat than anything. But he has a sweet, genuine smile when he turns to greet people he knows and those to whom he is introduced. he sang a few numbers, and they did their sound checks, then exited. someone told me he has been partying hard this week and sleeps in until about 3pm every day.
Among the guests today is Faduma Mohamed, with Himilo International Civic Development Agency. It's a Somali-Canadian organization that raises funding for essential items in the famine-affected regions, like plastic shelters, and resources for feeding centres.
Steve Paikin of TVO having a big chat with Frank McKenna, deputy chair of TD Bank Group and former premier of New Brunswick. Paikin turned backwards in his chair to talk to him, seated just in behind, in that intense interview manner of his.
no sign of any celebrities. I'm hoping old George Clooney comes in Bono's wake. He is supposed to be bringing some of his "friends" and hey, Bono's friends are different than yours and mine.
Faduma tells me that one of the major challenges facing her organization is the cut-off for a program whereby the Canadian government matches donations to Somalia made by Canadians. The end of the matching program will impact the relief supplies her group can send to Somalia "It's really very sad," she says. Her group has been lobbying the government to extend the program until the end of September.
The juxtaposition of frothy film festival and all the people in cocktail dresses and discussing what films they want to see a bit out of place with slides of Africa showing area of famine.
clapping as John Stackhouse takes stage with Bono and K'naan.
Globe editor John Stackhouse tells the crowd that we all know K'naan as a musician but "what you may not know about K'naan is that he has been an active campaigner on critical global issues going back to 1999."
Bono in black with his sunglasses.He's a singer, a Broadway creator, a film star and remarkable humanitarian,a pit bull against poverty, says Stackhouse.
Globe editor John Stackhouse credits Bono's ONE organization for its huge influence in bringing attention to major development issues.
k'naan perched on chair and looking out to crowd with a sort of sad, wistful look as video runs about is trip back to Somalia to look at the devastation of famine,.
Bono standing up and off the stage so he can look at the video more closely. Got those purple shades on, of course. His private windscreen, I always think.
Video showing footage of k'naan in a big refugee camp, and talking to people who stop him. He is a survivor, having escaped Somalia when he was 13. Two of his friends were murdered in Mogadishu. Some survivor guilt perhaps, and of course Africa and Somalia have been the fire behind much of his musical creativity.
K'naan speaking, such a soft, melodic voice, even as he speaks in regular sentences. Cadence to his voice and his sentences.
John Stackhouse asks K'naan to speak about how he could imagine Somalia to be. K'naan says Somalia is overflowing with beauty, and that's how he remembers growing up there - "under the governance of poetry".
Boy, sometime I would love to see Bono's real eyes, minus the sunglasses. Does he have bags under his eyes or something???
K'naan: Somalia is a nation of poetry. He says a lot of Western countries see poetry as elitist, but not so in his home country. "Poetry is the essential question in Somalia," he says.
K'naan talks about his grandfather was a poet, and flags were lowered to half-mast in Somalia when he passed away, as poets are so highly regarded.
love the way K'naan says that if you want to understand Somalia you have to love poetry. says Canada is a country that speaks english, not poetry and how that makes it hard for North Americans to understand his country.
K'naan talking with his hands, and obviously trying to find the right words to express his feelings.
"Poetry is not reserved for peace, it's everything" in Somalia, says K'naan. There's wartime poetry and both peacetime poetry - poetry can be violent and it can be beautiful. "It's everything," K'naan says.
John Stackhouse brings up the issue at hand: More than 750,000 people in the Horn of Africa are facing starvation. He asks Bono - how is this different from previous famines?
Bono: says this is different famine in many ways from other issues he has seen in Africa. 30,000 children just this last month. 30,000 poets he says. what he loves about hanging out with k'naan is ow he struggles with portrait of a very noble people being shattered by ignobale conditions. Bono says Knaan fights hard so that we dont put those people in an n unpoetic light. must think of them as "sentient souls" because then we have to really understand
"The more we think of these people as sentient souls, the more we have to take on board their actual existence. And you really can't believe that over 30,000 children have died over the past few months unless you take away their humanity. And that's what K'naan is kicking against." - Bono
Why is this different? Bono says again. He is part of a movement that felt that if we all worked together they could help a "near-impossible" goal of end of poverty. Thinks he failed to communicate how messy the fight against extreme poverty really is.
"I think we failed to explain to people how messy a business the fight against extreme poverty is," Bono says. "You see those ads that say 'just one minute of your time and you can save a child's life'... we're selling this magic trick that will end extreme poverty and I think people aren't buying it. It's time to be honest about the fight against extreme poverty... We need to tell people how difficult it is and ask if people still want to be on this ride... And I don't think there's a more important ride to be on, on this earth at the beginning of the 21st century."
Says ads and other messages are selling "a magic trick" to end poverty and people just didn't buy it. We need to tell people how messy it is and then say to people, "Do you still want to be on this ride." And there is no better ride to be on, but it's difficult. - Bono