Scottish singing superstar and activist Annie Lennox hit out at the “corruption and madness” of the modern generation of political leaders during her first live show in her home country for a decade.
The multiple Brit Award-winner also branded Brexit a “nightmare,” but was careful not to identify any individual politicians at a sold-out homecoming event in Glasgow.
The former Eurythmics singer issued a rallying cry for more to be done to end sexual violence against women, “abject” levels of poverty around the world and the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa, and said “western feminists” had to help achieve equality around the world.
Aberdeen-born Lennox, who has spoken regularly at the Scottish Parliament, drew a contrast between the current crop of global political leaders and the former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Lennox, who has sold more than 80 million records since bursting onto the music scene in the last 1970s, admitted to insecurity about whether she had been a good mother when was bringing up two daughters at the height of her fame.
Lennox performed a host of classics from her chart-topping career at the climax of the “evening of music and conservation” at the Armadillo. Proceeds from the event went to her charity The Circle, which she created to tackle injustices and challenges faced by disempowered women.
She recalled becoming involved in political activism after being asked to perform at a concert to celebrate the 70th birthday of imprisoned anti-apartheid campaigner Nelson Mandela in London in 1988 and visited him in South Africa after his release from prison. His descriptions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic inspired her campaign on its impact.
In an on-stage interview with broadcaster Janice Forsyth, she said: “Having seen AIDS really up close and how it was devastating South Africa, it has changed so much, but it’s not the end of the pandemic yet.
"We don’t generally think about these things, but they’re still going on. Our newspapers don’t focus on them. We’re caught up in a whole nightmare in Brexit. We’re all caught up in the drama and the dilemma. But all around the world there are billions of people living in abject poverty.
“I am a resourced, wealthy, self-made woman. All I really want to do is enjoy my life and make the best of it. But I also want to make a contribution. I have really felt this passion. I never wanted to preach to people. It is a turn-off.
“There are things that we could do. However the corruption and madness of political leaders around the world seems to prevent good things from happening, or we don’t get to hear about people who are doing amazing things. It drives me crazy.
“I want good healthcare systems everywhere, but especially where there are preventable diseases and pandemics which are wiping people out in their millions. That needs to change.
"Why wouldn’t you want young children and women to have access to treatment so they do not die. When you’ve seen poverty on that scale and the disempowerment it creates it’s overwhelming.
“Western feminists must wake up and realise that feminism is a global concept. We must change attitudes and behaviours when it comes to sexual abuse, domestic abuse, sexual violence and rape.
“We don’t have to fight with men. We have to transform negative, abusive attitudes and behaviours. It comes from generational poverty. There are reasons why men abuse women. We need to address it and bring it out of the closet.”