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3 Reasons Why Band Aid is Shit

Posted by on December 19, 2013

Now I know everybody loves this song, and I’ll also give it the benefit of the doubt and assume the intentions were good. However, when it comes to perpetuating the idea of Africa as just one country – and a country of primitive savages at that – this song has to be the main offender.

Of course I have no way of backing up the following statement, but I’d be willing to hazard a wager that in doing so, in the long run, it probably costs the people of Africa more than it gives.

Sorry Sir Bob, but it has to be said.

I was also willing to accept that maybe it was the product of a more ignorant time, that we know better now…but then they re-released it in 2004 and it sold over a million copies.

I’m talking about “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, which if you’re somehow not familiar with, goes like this:

“There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas”

kilamanjaro glacier

Anyone ever heard of Mount Kilamanjaro?

Well, firstly, what a ridiculous statement, since half of Africa is in the Southern hemisphere and so has it’s winter at the opposite time of year.

You wouldn’t hear anyone singing, “there won’t be snow in Australia this Christmas”, would you?

Countries like South Africa, Lesotho and even Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda get plenty of snow…in their winter.

Secondly, it’s also not true. Did the writers never hear of Mount Kilamanjaro? It’s just a wee 5895 meters high, meaning year round snow.

Plus, even fucking Cairo gets snow…as recently as a few days ago!

“Where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow”

No rain? No rain? Are you fucking kidding me? Africa is on the equator. It’s got one of the biggest areas of rainforest in the world. That means year round rain, pretty much every day.

As far as “rivers” go, do I really have to say it? The Congo? The Zambezi? The fucking Nile, anyone?

“Nothing ever grows”? I’m not even going to bother anymore.

“Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?…Let them know it’s Christmas time!”

Seriously?

Who are “they” supposed to be, exactly?

I know we love the idea that the world is full of undiscovered places, and that everyone in Africa lives in a remote tribe, deep in the jungle, or in cave in the middle of the Sahara, but they really don’t.

lagos nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria. To name one of many.

Roughly half the population of Africa are Christians. We’re talking about 450 million people. Do we really think that they don’t know what Xmas is?

Almost the same number are Muslims. So, firstly, I’m pretty sure they know what Xmas is, for Christ’s sake! Secondly, if they don’t, are we really talking about forcing it on them?

The small remainder is comprised of traditional African religions and other beliefs, which are dying out fast enough as it is.

This song is starting to sound a lot like racial and cultural imperialism…which, lest we forget, is exactly why the continent of Africa is in this shit-shambles in the first place.

Sorry for the rant, but there was a point to it. There are 52 countries in Africa – that’s more than any other continent in the world – and yet we insist on treating it as one, to the point where it’s easy even for people who have travelled Africa to come back and get caught up in this bullshit discourse.

In short, this could all have been avoided if they’d just said “Ethiopia” in the fucking first place.

7 Responses to 3 Reasons Why Band Aid is Shit

  1. grahamaskey

    As I am in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia I can assure you that they do indeed know its christmas. There are people dressed as santa, decorations are up, people wish each other happy xmas and have to listen to the same incessant, fucking jingles as in the uk when you walk round the city

  2. Hailes

    I’ve always had a problem with this song, like obviously when I was really young I didn’t give it too much thought but, in the more recent and post teenage years, I’ve always recognised what a load of crap it is (although rather catchy…) In a recent module I’ve been doing at uni, we were discussing colonialism and post-colonialism and how we (the western world) feel it is our duty to help, guide and civilize them (anyone who is not the western world). It’s like Pocahontas all over again. We force our way in, make unnecessary changes, fuck everything up and then leave the place in chaos, return to the idea many years down the line and act as though we are noble to help, still completely disregarding all the shit this country has done throughout history. My history is rather poor so I won’t give any inaccurate examples but this song just highlights how ignorant we are and how people really don’t listen to words in songs. A good tune, a few famous faces and a montage of starving children is all we need to feel to tell us it has good intentions…

    In other words, really enjoyed this post! :)

    • Roy Duffield

      Cheers Hailey, I had to cut an excessive rant on the ignorance of the British public, buyers of pop music and Westerners in general, so it’s nice to have someone else say it instead. :) Very good point.

  3. Hailes

    Edit: by Pocahontas, I mean the whole Colonialist thing of people barging into the “New World” etc , not actually John Smith etc :P

  4. Terry Duffield

    Whilst I whole heartedly agree, I’m hoping that you won’t review Silent Night

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