Band Aid needs a shake-up

Oh, Band Aid. Another year, another track with beautiful people singing a beautiful-sounding song… that totally misrepresents that large continent in the centre of the map. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaf88ichm3o On first watching the […]


Oh, Band Aid. Another year, another track with beautiful people singing a beautiful-sounding song… that totally misrepresents that large continent in the centre of the map.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaf88ichm3o

On first watching the video I couldn’t help but get that stupid fuzzy feeling inside watching all those pretty celebrity faces singing their hearts out for a “good cause”.

But on second viewing, the footage at the beginning- people in white-protection suits lifting a dying African woman from a hut- somehow seemed askew. The lyrics, which I actually listened to the second time, were all wrong.

“There is no peace and joy in West Africa this Christmas time”. What utter bullshit.

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Obviously, those suffering and witnessing the suffering of Ebola will be having a joyless time. There is no doubt that these people need help and support from the rest of the world against the evil disease.

But the problem with Band Aid is the way that it portrays West Africa as one single country that is plagued by the epidemic; where happiness ceases to exist altogether; where the entire population is relying on Westerners to bring joy back into their lives.

I hark back to the nonsensical nineteenth century imperialist concept of ‘the white man’s burden’.

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Considering the innovation and economic development in the continent today, this condescending idea that the ‘rich’ whites have an obligation help the people of Africa; that aid from the West is their only hope, is utterly ridiculous.

A friend of mine is a journalist in Senegal, West Africa. He is Senegalese and he told me that in his country, people are not living in fear of the disease, and that there is no sense of panic:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people who are affected, but in Senegal, everything is fine. Christians will celebrate Christmas and there will be a lot of joy at this time of year.

Indeed, West Africa is a big place, containing 15 individual countries. Only six of these countries have been hit by Ebola, and two of these have now been given the clear.

Yes, that leaves 11 countries that the Band Aid song claims are in desperate need of help to fight the disease, but in fact have no trace of it.

So why have that ridiculous lyric stating that the whole population of West Africa is helpless and joyless and in need of Western salvation?

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The point I am raising has nothing to do with Ebola.

The issue is with the concept of Band Aid in general- the message generated each year that Africa needs us, the endless images of helpless African people flashing on our screens while Western ‘saviors’ sing for them.

While of course it is great to encourage people to donate to help end atrocities in the world, the constant association of ‘Africa’ with suffering is ultimately confining African people within an identity that they are increasingly trying to break out of.

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There are a lot of healthy, happy, ambitious people in Africa, many of them trying to branch out businesses and enterprise on a global level. Constantly representing them as helpless and needy is only unfairly refraining them from doing so.

Bob, by all means, continue producing songs that will raise money for good causes, but please, STOP with the inaccurate generalisations.

How about promoting a more authentic and genuine form of Band Aid, produced by Africans themselves? Surely encouraging the continent to have its own acknowledged heroes would have far more sustainable benefits.

The countries of Africa are where you’ll find some of the happiest and high-spirited people in the world, as well as some of the most innovative and ambitious.

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Can we stop with the deceitful and misleading lyrics and start recognising Africa for the happy and diverse continent that it is please.

What are your views on Band Aid? Is it all about the money raised or could it have a negative impact? Let us know in the comments.