As the world battles the COVID -19 pandemic, world powers come to their knees, even the enlightened West are throwing their arms open for help. Governments are overwhelmed with both the economic challenges of funding the battle and the economic impact the pandemic is having on the global economy; public health infrastructures are over-stretched as hospitals run out of bed space, stadia, restaurants, pub houses, recreational centres, have all become isolation centres. In the overall best interest of the society, it has become imperative for all hands to be on deck, as government alone cannot battle the scourge of COVID -19. Beside corporates and entrepreneurs who have thrown their resources into the fight, sports stars and music artistes from different parts of the globe are lending support to their governments in fighting the pandemic. However, African artistes and stars are yet to make their voices and resources count in the campaign to rid Africa of COVID -19.
LEARNING FROM OTHERS
Elsewhere in the world, the artistes and stars are taking bold steps, putting their talent, time and their treasure. Tennis star Roger Federer announced a donation of 1 million Swiss Francs (about $1,020,000) to support families in Switzerland who are affected by COVID -19. Similarly, another Tennis star, Novak Djokovic has also donated €1million (about $1.1million) to purchase life-saving respirators and other sanitary equipment to support the fight against COVID -19 in his home country, Serbia. Lionel Messi, the Football maestro, has also donated €1million to hospitals in Barcelona to support treatment of patients of COVID -19 and also to support research on the virus. Cristiano Ronaldo is not left out in this social responsibility as he has also donated €1million to provide life-saving equipment to Portuguese hospitals in Lisbon and Porto in the fight against Corona virus. Singer Rihanna has also donated $5million in response to the COVID -19 outbreak, even as Michael Jacksons estate and Shawn Mendes donated $300,000 and $175,000, respectively.
In a more engaging collaboration, Tennis star Rafael Nadal and NBA basketball star, Pau Gasol are teaming up to mobilize other stars to raise €11million under the campaign tag #NuestraMajorVictoria (Our Best Victoria). The campaign is intended to help about 1,350,000 people living with the Corona virus. To-date, beside the initiators (Nadal and Gasol) other stars have joined with donations to support the course. In a related development, about 100 athletes drawn from 20 different sports have donated their signed ‘memorabilla’ to be auctioned to raise fund for the ‘Athletes for COVID -19 Relief Fund’. US –based basketball team, Golden state warriors, have pledged $1million to a disaster relief fund. Even in less – advanced economies, the story is the same. Paskistani Cricked captain, Shahid Afridi has been distributing food, disinfectants and other essentials to affected families in Pakistan. In Bangladesh, Cricketers have contributed half of their monthly salary into a pool of about $30,000 to support the fight against Corona Virus in their country.
DON’T FAIL AFRICANS
Equally interesting is the rise of African music artistes to international prominence and economic relevance. African music artistes enjoy visibility on net, thanks to their ever-supportive African brothers and sisters, who listen to their EPs, download their video, like their posts and attend their shows thereby creating patronage for their talents. Andrew Carnegie, the legend of corporate charity and stewardship, once opined that “there is but one right mode of using enormous fortunes (wealth), namely: that the possessor from time to time should so administer these so as to promote the permanent good of the communities from which they were gathered”. There cannot be a better time than now, for the possessors of these fortunes to reach out to those who once crowd-funded the same fortunes. In the last decade, Africa has produced more artistes and stars than the continent had 5 decades before; these artistes and stars earn more than a hundredfold of what the legends earned doing the same job.
WHY SHOULD THEY BE INVOLVED
It is only rationale that we reconsider the opinion of Carnegie on the right way to apply enormous fortunes. Just as we call on corporates to give back to society, artistes and sports stars are also indebted to the society whose social capital fuelled their rise to stardom. This was the conviction of Nadal when he said, “the Spanish have never failed us Athletes; now we cannot fail you”. Africa has never failed her Talents, therefore her Talents must not fail her in this critical moment. The teeming African sports and music fans, movie lovers, who have always spent their hard-earned money to watch their compatriots in local and foreign soccer leagues, bought tickets to music and comedy shows (N5,000 regular; N25,000 VIP; table for 10, N1million), same African brethren are down and holed-up in their homes by the scourge of COVID -19. It is only rationale and ethical that part of the wealth gathered from their patronage be applied in saving their lives. This makes business sense, as it guarantees future patronage for their benefactors.
No gainsaying the fact that our African stars and artistes need to tow the part of their counterparts in the other parts of the globe: the gesture shown by Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Messi, Ronaldo, Gasol, etc. are worthy examples of COVID -19 CSR. The effort of the Pakistani Cricketers are also indicative that keying into the COVID -19 CSR is not about the magnitude, but the attitude; it is not about the size of the support, but the willingness to support; the sense of responsibility and solidarity is all that makes the difference. Presently, the indicators are glaring: music shows have been called off, concerts cancelled, movie premiers put on hold; there may not be more money to spend if there are no fans following on social media pages; there may no bank alert if there no healthy compatriots to attend shows and pay the fees; there may even be no revenues from endorsements if the benefactor companies have no audience to impress. Suffice it to say that even the stars and the artistes themselves are not immune to the virus, hence the need and urgency for them to join and be involved in the fight against COVID -19. It is noteworthy to mention the pledge of N10million each from Nigerian musicians, Tu Face and Runtown; much is still being expected from the others.
HOW SHOULD THEY BE INVOLVED
The three T’s (Time, Talent and Treasure) model remains the best avenue to embrace COVID -19 CSR. Time, the most precious resource is in high demand in this trying time. Just a little time to cheer the already demoralized populace is not a giving to wave aside. Putting the same talent of generating followers online into mobilizing support for victims and affected persons would also count in ameliorating the plights of the people. Most importantly, devoting treasure in providing basic amenities needed to combat the virus is the hallmark of the COVID -19 CSR. Medical equipment are in need, personal protecting equipment (PPEs) are in support supply; salaries of the over-burdened medical personnel is yet another burden. Equally important is the welfare of the rest of Africa, locked out of cities, markets and workplaces without guarantee of the next meal. Much is required to help Africa wage war against COVID -19. A collaborative effort of governments and the people of Africa is needed to win. Corporates and well-meaning individuals are enjoined to throw their weight behind the government. While the corporates are taking the frontline in this fight, all fortunate individuals alike must show support. While stars and artistes world-over are committing their resources, significantly, in the fight against COVID -19, here is a wake-up call for African stars and artistes to as a matter of social responsibility embrace COVID -19 CSR.
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