As Western stars re-release the 1980s charity hit ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas? in response to the Ebola crisis, many Africans are saying it’s a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Aljazeera reports: Bob Geldof may well be the only writer of one of the best-known songs of all time to admit that his multi-million selling anthem is truly awful and that he now finds himself irritated when he hears it on the radio.
“I am responsible for two of the worst songs in history,” the shouty Irish singer and activist said in 2010. “One is ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ and the other one is ‘We Are The World’.”
But that hasn’t stopped him re-recording the former, originally released in 1984 to raise funds to fight to the Ethiopia famine, and now incongruously synonymous with Christmas in Britain.
The problem is that a lot of people agree with his assessment, and many of them are from countries on the very continent he is trying to help.
The original campaign, and similar well-meaning Western efforts, have led to an image of an Africa full of countries, and people, unable to help themselves and constantly looking to foreigners for help.
When it was announced last week that, in response to Ebola, Geldof was planning to record a song he thinks is terrible for the fourth time, there was an eruption of criticism from Africans on Twitter and elsewhere.
Though the original song was recorded to raise money for Ethiopia, African critics say the stigma its simplistic message left behind affected not only that country, but a continent of 54 hugely-varied nations.
Detractors say an unintended legacy hinders investment, hurts tourism and inspires the sort of aid that has a negative impact.
There are, of course, also Africans who have no problem with it – any initiative that raises money to respond to an underfunded disaster is welcome, they say. Questions about dignity can be debated later. The money raised by One Direction, Coldplay, Bono, Ed Sheeran and others is as welcome as anybody else’s.
But, with the power of celebrity hogging the media coverage, critical voices from the continent itself can often find themselves drowned out. So we spoke to them to find out why they don’t want this sort of help.
The first question we asked, with tongue firmly in cheek, was the one Geldof has wondered aloud through the power of song several times over the last 30 years: Whether or not they know of a thing called Christmas?
Continue HERE to read the responses
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