What a difference a Head makes
The world media focus in on G8 leaders / Oxfam Big Heads gambling with Africa’s future. Credit: Craig Owen / Oxfam International.
Today was Oxfam’s G8 Gambling stunt. It was our first so to make sure we got the best spot we got up at 5am and were setting up at the rally site by 7.30am. There’s no doubt we arrived a little too early, as we spent the next 3 hours sitting and waiting for it all to start. Still, there’s nothing like being prepared – that’s what I say anyway.
The poker table, the extra large playing cards, and the fake money went up first, which represented our basic message: the G8 holds all the cards, and is gambling with crucial money they’ve already promised to (and that’s desperately needed by) the world’s poorest people. Our friend Mark Kofi Asamoah came along to represent Africa being cheated in the game – he did a sterling job.
By 9.30am it was still worryingly quiet at the start of the demo. There was only around 1000 people, mostly checking out the stage opposite us, which was playing incredibly loud music – a 50 Cent tune with a German rap over the top of it (I wasn’t convinced).
It was 10am when we started putting our ‘heads’ on to kick off the stunt. I felt nervous about what kind of press interest we would manage to get. But what a difference a head makes! Firstly, wearing one was like carrying the weight of a small child on my head – and you can’t see a thing so you really don’t know what’s going on. But more importantly, the heads radically changed the scene around us. After posing at the table, dealing cards for an hour with Emma shouting “Heads lean forward” and “Heads, hoard your money”, we were allowed a five minute break.
We knew the press would be interested in covering ‘radicals at the rally’, but when I took my head off I was gobsmacked by what was in front of me – thousands of people and a sea of (video) cameras all pointing at us and our stunt. It was a success. And it felt fantastic. And if I don’t see some of these photos in the press I shall eat my own Head!
I feel really proud to have worked as part of the team that generated so much interest in the G8’s responsibility to help eradicate poverty at this Summit. We’ll be linking to the photos and the stories in the press – make sure you come back and see how we did.