A Band Aid Ain't Gonna Heal #Ebola... #BandAid30.
Star Of Africa.
"Really it's no surprise he's such an expert on famine, he's been dining out on I Don't Like Mondays for 30 years... " Russell Brand.
Let's face it, none of us really like Mondays. It is the first step onto the self-defeating and constant treadmill of the grindstone, a week is an epoch when coupled with monotony. This Monday however, comes off the back of Bob Geldof releasing what is now a fourth version of Midge Ure's classic charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Unveiled on last night's X Factor elimination show (ironically as a powerful rival to the X Factor winner's Christmas single that Simon Cowell patently doesn't want, as the Grinch of Grim Music) a reworking at the behest of Sir Bobby Gandalf by a firmament of modern music stars that has raised one million pounds already. Yet three decades and four charity singles later, the boon of benevolence wears thin as the magnanimity of a pop star deciding to 'give something back' has proved to have little return and the African continent is still gripped by warfare, famine and disease.
Having witnessed a news report about the 1984 Ethiopian famine, Bob Geldof felt unable to stand by and remain privy with the whole world that such injustice occurred and continue with his life. Gathering the biggest stars of the day, on the advice of Boy George (U2, Midge Ure, Duran Duran, Paul Young, Status Quo, Culture Club and more) he produced Do They Know It's Christmas? Penned by Ultravox and Visage man Midge Ure, it became the second highest selling single in British chart history to date, pushed to down to the silver plinth on the podium by Elton John's re-working of Candle in the Wind, in memory of Princess Diana. Off the strength of the first single by "Band Aid," came Live Aid in the summer of 1985, a concert of cosmic proportions with stars and legends packing Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. 5 years on, Pete Waterman's Hit Factory regurgitated an anodyne version of the original classic belched off his production line like reformed meat. A 15-year hiatus prompted a renaissance when Band Aid 20 launched in 2004, aping Band Aid and Live Aid, impelling a global concert, Live 8, coinciding with the Gleneagles G8 conference, under the auspices of the optimistic and endmost epithet: "Make Poverty History."
History has now unfurled towards the present and the Ebola crisis grips several Atlantic coastal African nations and Sir Bobby Gandalf waves his altruistic wand once again. #BandAid30 is the result of such philanthropic potency. Yet is this potency snake oil? It's certainly not the panacea for the Ebola virus Bob Geldof envisions, as Live Aid's £150 million and Make Poverty History have been chalked up to reasons beyond his control. Eliminating Ebola and Africa's problems puts a Manic Monday to shame.
Geldof's reaction to the Ebola epidemic is a connotation of something endemic in Europe and the West's treatment of the African continent itself - despite the well meaning motives behind his charity. It speaks of a deeply ingrained sentiment towards Africa, the cradle of humankind, that is a rancour in the First World, despite the intention towards the Third World being positive or negative.
Do They Know Ebola's More Serious?
Ebola was first diagnosed in 1976 and this is not the first outbreak either. Although the internet age has been graced with another looming threat of a pandemic, bestowed at least with a cyber one, the hashtag. Africa as a continent has been the subject of undivided outside attention for centuries now, beginning with Colonialism and extending through into the Slave Trade. Nations were carved up by the Empire building Europeans, a game to the elite learned from their Roman forebears, continued through Papal contemporaries. England, France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Holland and Germany carved up the continent between them. Modern African borders persist as scars of such Draconian ambition and are used to keep the exploitative wound fresh, only now the US and China are Europe's accomplices.
Africa is a continent abundant in not only verdant rainforests, but also reams of spacious savannah, enough room within vast deserts to build solar powered fields capable of fueling the entire world... not to mention vast underwater oceans and a wealth of precious and semi-precious minerals. Diamond and gold gain their lustre on the blood of innocents, slaves and the casualties of war. AIDS is a pandemic that the Vatican have made sure has it's spirit in Africa. Disavowing the worth of condoms and espousing specious nonsense such as the withdrawal method have proliferated this deadly disease from the Cape of Good Hope to The Sinai. Not to mention the Catholic rhetoric spouted from pulpits in Rwanda driving the mass slaughter in that nation, or American televangelists turning a once cultural indifference towards homosexuality into a murderous loathing.
The west covets Coltan for the ever burgeoning yen for smartphone technology, the wages of which are the souls of almost 5 and a half million children in the Congo. Africa still remains the playground for wealthy westerners who are bought and paid up members of the Cult of Capitalism. Tuna fishing, China's insatiable lust for shark fin and ivory and a hunting company, catering for Prince Andrew and the Jordanian Royal Family driving 40,000 Masai from their homes to make way for hunting grounds pervade the continent to this day. But what does this have to do with a charity single, you may ask?
A pop star applying mellifluous salve to the Ebola crisis is an inherent problem of why this continent is given a unique and often looked down on perspective. It will raise money, alleviate the suffering of a portion of those blighted by Ebola. But it won't cure Ebola, it won't address the issues of the nations beyond a virus. A deep sickness where the world views Africa as something to be dealt with, a wound to be bandaged and the west are using money as a tourniquet. In truth much deeper questions need to be asked, such as how does the plight of this continent effect the unity of our world? Money is a finite resource that in our post Thatcher era has been pushing for infinite status, thus it believes it's possibilities are endless. This symptom has infected even the most well meaning of us. So whilst Bob Geldof's notions are noble, his idea for dealing with it are base. Money should not line the cradle of our species.
© Brad James, 2014.