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”
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!”
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.
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.