November 28, 2014
Dozens of British music stars have come together to record a new version of the song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ to raise money for the fight against Ebola. But the song has not been universally welcomed in Africa - where local music stars have recorded their own Ebola single.
Thirty years ago, British musician Bob Geldof brought together dozens of stars under the name Band Aid. Their song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ raised $11 million for victims of the Ethiopian famine.
Now he’s done it again. A new generation of musicians plus a few old faces have recorded a re-worked version of the same song to raise money for the fight against Ebola. Geldof says the international community has not given nearly enough to fight the disease.
“They need 20 times that," he said. "So this record is an attempt to try and bridge that. Certainly to push it, so we're doing Band Aid Germany, Band Aid France.”
The song has topped the charts in Britain. Editor of music magazine NME.com <http://NME.com> Greg Cochrane says three decades on, the song could reach millions more people.
“The way we consume music has changed dramatically," he said. "So obviously this version of Band Aid is going to be available on a few different formats.”
But the Band Aid 30 release has not been universally welcomed in Africa. Ethiopian music teacher Ezra Ababate says the title - ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ - is patronizing.
“Ethiopians accepted Christianity in the first century," he said. "We know it is Christmas. The thing is, labeling the entire Africa as a country is a very bad expression. Africa is a continent, it is not a country.”
Several African stars including Salif Keita and Mory Kante have come together under the group name ‘3D Family’ to record an alternative fundraising song titled ‘Africa stop Ebola’. All proceeds go to the charity Doctors Without Borders.
Sung in French and local languages, it urges people to go to a doctor if they are ill - and warns them to avoid touching dead bodies.
Among the artists on the track is Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi - who also criticized Band Aid 30.
“Anytime we have a problem in Africa… Bob Geldof, I'm the angel coming to help the Africans," said Awadi.
Medical experts say the disease has spread so quickly in West Africa because people lack information about how to fight the disease. Music might change that, says Guinean singer Mory Kante, who also appears on ‘Africa Stop Ebola’.
“I think that art and culture is the shortest route to communicate with these villagers so that they understand the importance of being able to avoid this scourge,” said Kante.
It’s hoped both music tracks will raise money and raise awareness of the disease.