A lot of people have been disturbed and sickened by the suffering from famine in Africa. Some rock stars have felt the same way.
The have got together — under the name of Band Aid — to put out a record, “Feed the World”.
All proceeds will go directly to the starving in Ethiopia. Steps have been taken to prevent a repetition of the Bangladesh fiasco when very little of the money raised by George Harrison got beyond embezzlement by state bureaucrats.
A very good and well meaning idea. But the record itself is almost unbelievably bad. The lyrics are so inane as to be insulting.
“Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?” the star-ridden chorus intones. “Feed the world, let them know it’s Christmas time” they all join in.
It’s like a latter-day version of the 19th century missionaries bringing (so they said) the light of Christianity to the Dark Continent. If all was well in Africa, the song suggests, then happy darkies would abandon all their pagan customs and sit down each 25 December to turkey and Christmas pudding and the Queen’s speech on TV.
The song even says that there will be “no snow in Africa this Christmas.” I do not know whether the rock stars are really unaware that snow likes on the ground all year round in parts of Africa, or that bitter cold is one of the problems compounding the famine in Ethiopia.
Better that rock stars try to raise money for Ethiopia than for themselves, but to appeal for help to give these poor ignorant savages a better Christmas is niave, and rather sickening rubbish.
Buy the record — or better still, don’t, and give the equivalent sum of money to famine relief. But don’t forget that governments possess the means to really deal with the present disaster in Africa and elsewhere, and the private profit system is to blame for making the disaster possible.
By Edward Ellis
Socialist Organiser, 12 December 1984