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THE CHATTER BOX

 
  
  
  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
  
  
  
 
Messages 1 2 

Do they know it's Christmas? by Wild in Africa on 15 November 2004 2:52am
 
Without wanting to be a spoiler at the party I wish I could persuade the re-makers of the Band Aid single to rewrite their lyrics. They were wildly inappropriate last time and even more so this time. Of course the Ethiopians knew it was Christmas. These people were Christian long before Europe and even in the midst of disaster are deeply devout people. To imply because they were benighted starving Africans that they were also so traumatised as to be unaware of what was most sacred to them is deeply insulting. Similarly this time around the proceeds are going towards the people of Darfur in Sudan; Muslims who do not celebrate Christmas. While not wishing to downplay the great good that BandAid/Live Aid has done over the years surely in the intervening 20 years a bit of basic research would have revealed that the original lyrics were not just inappropriate but an insult to the culture and beliefs of the peoples for whom they wre intending to benefit, and also exposed the perhaps innnocent and well intended naivity of the pop stars involved.
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Noell on 19 November 2004 12:48am
 
Have you seen the line-up? It's really cool that these amazing groups are getting together. I was especially excited to see that Franz Ferdinand and Dido are going to sing, along with Bono singing his original famous line.
Out of curiosity, what lyrics did you think were inappropriate? All I remember is "And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime - the greatest gift they'll get this year is life..." You're probably right; I just don't remember all the lyrics of the song.
I was around 7 when the song came out, and I loved it. I remember calling into my local pop radio station in August one time to request it, and they laughed at me. LAUGHED at me...like the only time that song can be played is Christmas... I remember being offended, and I didn't listen to that closed-minded radio station after that.
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Godfather on 19 November 2004 1:49am
 

Personally,i'm cynical about the whole thing. The root cause of the problems in places like Sudan,is it's f*****g Government. The evidence of their direct sanctioning of massacre and planned famine,is now there. It's time to act. But not by making pop stars feel good singing in a line up. The UN hangs back (as usual) scared to commit to any military intervention. It likes it's "Peace Prizes" too much to really threaten the Sudanese Government with any action.

It is more likely to place sanctions on it's government, which will simply mean that the Government officials live well, and the poor people end up starving. Throwing Live Aid money for food at such countries, is a temporary fix,and futile in the long term. We all know this.

Bob Geldof himself once admitted this about Ethiopia. In Sudan, the hardline Government is the killer of many of it's own people. Trying to deliberately starve and massacre them out of existence. Why Bob Geldof thinks a happy song will help the situation in the long term,is beyond me really.

I do find it all patronizing, even though i'm not Sudanese. It's all to appease the hearts of rich people. Making them feel better about their wealth. The true and immediate threat and weapon of mass destruction was the Sudanese Government. The U.S and the rest of the world knew it but went elsewhere.

The Sudanese Government harboured Osama Bin Laden and others for years, and had training camps. Now it's government is brutally trying to ethnically cleanse certain groups of it's own people. The evidence is there, and people are dying everyday. But what do we do instead?. America and UK invade Iraq on a false assumption,and it's resources are now tied up there for several years. Big mistake indeed.

Meanwhile, Bob Geldof and the musicians of the UK make a happy clappy song for Christmas sales, to raise money for grain which will probably be blocked from getting to the people who need it, by the Sudanese Government itself. Am i right to be cynical? I loved the song as a kid. But nowadays,i look beyond the happy song folks.

I'll step down off my soapbox now.

 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Wild in Africa on 19 November 2004 12:06pm
 
Hmmm, big soapbox Godfather.
Let me answer Noell first though. In truth most of the lyrics are/were inappropriate; the arrogant assumption that the Ethiopians knew nothing of Christmas (they were Christian hundreds of years before Europe), that crap you noted about not being snow in Africa this Christmas (well, duh!). Anyway last time around it did actually raise some people's consciousness and raised a lot of money to relieve immediate suffering and saved lives, first in Ethiopia, later elsewhere. So one should swallow one's cynicism for the greater good perhaps.
Back to Godfather though. It is easy to get totally cynical at times. I have worked in the humanitarian aid business for over 20 years and just came back recently from Darfur in Sudan. You are more aware than most about what has been going on in Sudan so I don't need to preach to you, but yes, you are right that the Sudan Governement is by and large responsible for this disaster and that until that root cause is tackled Sudan is heading for a constant repetition of this for years to come.
Western liberals (including myself) may wring their hands and give money and no doubt some of this will be used in the right way, but no, it won't make the big problem go away. At least if more people can be made aware of these issues through such things as BandAid and can work and campaign through their lives for a better world then all is not wasted and perhaps our jaded cynicism will be shown to be misplaced.
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Spursfan on 19 November 2004 1:21pm
 
Once again Wild in Africa you have totally missed the point!!!!!!! Do they know it's Christmas wasn't asking about the religious knowledge of the Ethiopians. It was saying that they were so involved in purely surviving - or not - that Christmas became a day just like any other. Another day to get through, another day of hunger etc etc. Whilst people in the west were enjoying everything about Xmas, they would be just happy to get through another 24 hours.

I'm sure that if you lived in a country where Xmas was celebrated but was not so 'in your face' as the UK (and I admit I love all the commercialism - why bring religion into it hee hee!)then if you were starving and almost past fighting to survive you would not know it was Christmas either, whether you were Christian or not!

Anne, who is at this moment jumping off her soapbox!!
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Wild in Africa on 19 November 2004 2:18pm
 
Thank you Spursfan (of which I am one also) and I think we have debated this already and I agreed that starving people do not necessarily appreciate much beyond their own daily survival. Nevertheless (and without wanting to read too much into a pop song) western impressions of Africa and Africans are so often ignorant and centred on an assumption of western cultural superiority without wanting to delve more deeply into the realities of a long and vibrant culture and history. It's easy to simplify things for an uninformed audience to raise quick cash. I would hope that some of those originally touched by BandAid went on to find out a bit more about what is was all about and to do something positive to make the changes needed in this world to bring justice and equality to people denied those luxuries and hence minimise the potential for future suffering. Perhaps BandAid 20 will do that for a handful of people who might get past the awful lyrics and also get involved more positively and productively.
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Noell on 9 December 2004 11:44pm
 
Good points, Wild. Years after Band Aid and Live Aid occurred, I remember reading that over half of the food bought with the raised money rotted in fields, never reaching the starving people in Ethiopia. This is why I was a little skeptical about the new Band Aid (the line-up is fantastic, though), and remain so after hearing the unenthusiastic song.
You can't just raise money to buy food for a nation when the nation's government won't let the food in. The Ethiopian government mainly consisted of warlords who had no intention of giving any of the donated money/food to the people.
The situation in Sudan isn't at all the same, however - i guess we'll have to wait and see how it turns out.
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by RaRa on 10 December 2004 11:30am
 
Interesting views but to get caught up in the 'politics' of words once again negates the whole issue of people just wanting to do SOMETHING. Thousands of people who actually go out and buy this single won't even know where Ethiopia is, let alone why people are starving and the political reasons for it - gut reaction will be just a basic urge to stand against what is ultimately wrong i.e. that people are starving in a world of excess.

I'm sure none of this goes over Sir Bob's head and I'd love to hear his answer on it. I would imagine it to be that squabbling over words in a pop tune are not worth the negative energy in relation to the good that has been achieved both in Africa and within people's hearts and souls to GIVE.

Maybe a whole new song re-titled "Write off Debt" should replace "Feed the World".......who knows?
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by Wild in Africa on 10 December 2004 12:53pm
 
Thanks Noell and RaRa for keeping this alive. The situation in Sudan is if anything even worse than in Ethiopia in 1984. This is a Government that has been waging war on its own people for the best part of the last 50 years and has commited countless atrocities. Until that fundemental issue is addressed the killing will go on and Sudan will never get a chance to escape the horrors of war and poverty.
I applaud the good intentions of Band Aid (and went out and bought the Live Aid DVD as soon as it came out) but my basic argument remains that trivial pop song or not, it is also passing a message to a huge audience and it would be nice if that message was a closer reflection of reality.
Sir Bob and Bono are as you know also doing a lot to raise consciousness on debt relief, though releasing a Christmas single with the catchy refrain 'Do Tony and George know what third world debt is doing to coffee farmers in Columbia' is probably going to miss the teenage market buying the Band Aid song.
 
Re: Do they know it's Christmas? by RaRa on 10 December 2004 4:20pm
 
quote: 'Do Tony and George know what third world debt is doing to coffee farmers in Columbia'

Well I don't know, I find it kind of catchy but then I'm no teenager! Pass me a Cappucino or a Latte and I'll soon come up with a toon.

I've sent four of these CD's out to friends in the USA - what was the song they released at the same time? (strangely I cant remember it)
 
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