Friday, December 23, 2011

Do they know relief efforts?

Talk about deflating . . .

Almost 30 years after Band Aid released "Do They Know It's Christmas?" a band from Africa is releasing a single "Yes We Do" and it packs a little punch.

Apparently some unemployed musicians from South Africa are a little miffed about the patronizing efforts of the West.  According to a wire report from, singer Boontown Gundane was oozing with contempt for the Band Aid effort all those years ago.  According to an interview on, Gundane doesn't quite understand the point of the song:

“Just because we don’t have Boney M or Christmas advertising in September doesn’t mean we are oblivious to it,”

According to the website Gundane then went on to compare Africans to the Irish . . .

“They made it through disasters like the potato blight and the invention of the Protestant church without forgetting Christmas – why did they think we would forget it?”

The Band, calling themselves Plaster Cast are ironically using the proceeds from the song to donate to literacy, discipline and contraception in schools across Britain.  Gundane had gone so far as to say that the success of the song will turn him into an expert on British politics and economics the same way that it has with the artists for disaster relief.  Gundane went on to say 'If I'm not sharing a platform with the Queen and David Cameron by this time next year, or headlining at Glastonbury, then I will have done something very wrong' according to

Reading this, I laughed inside but I also felt annoyed.  What is this guy talking about?  He is from South Africa . . . the song was meant for Ethiopia -  the two are on the same continent but worlds apart.  Perhaps it might be insulting for someone in South Africa to be asked "Do They Know It's Christmas" but the question wasn't about you.  It was about the Western idea of 'Christmas' as a commercial farce that trumpets the values of warm homes, rich dinners and expensive gifts.  Do the people of Ethiopia even know about this idea when they are experiencing a [a then] decade-long drought and famine?

And why couldn't we give our food, warmth and presents to someone that really needed it?

Sorry, I get the irony of Plaster Cast but we need to be careful of becoming snobs of relief efforts that have nothing to do with you or your people.

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