An African Response To Band Aid

Derek Ouellette —  December 22, 2011

Have you ever wondered how North Americans must sound to Africans? Many of us try to help the cause against aids and starvation and genocide and other things we see and hear and think are going on over there. We raise up heroes like Bono and Geldof, forerunners and leaders in the fight to change Africa.

But has it ever occurred to you that for all of our effort, strategy and hype, we are actually insulting Africans?

In 1984 Geldof pulled together some of the worlds most talented voices to sing a catchy song titled, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and recently, according to, a talented group of African musicians and singers pulled together to write a song of their own titled, “Yes We Do”.

The opening line of the article reads, “After 28 years of silently tolerating it”. They “tolerated” Band Aid’s s article ong that was created and used (still to this day) to help feed Africa. Some people might see this as sort of a biting of the hand that feeds you. But they don’t seem to see it that way. Rather they seem to see Band Aid (for all the good they do) as patronizing and dehumanizing. The composer of the new African song, Gundane, said:

“Or was he just saying that Africans were stupid? Of course we knew it was Christmas… Just because we don’t have Boney M or Christmas advertising in September doesn’t mean we are oblivious to it.”

The article goes on:

When asked why the ensemble of African musicians, who have called themselves Plaster Cast, had taken so long to come up with a response to the Band Aid song Gundane said it had taken a while for them to realise that it wasn’t actually an elaborate joke.

“We kept waiting for them to laugh,” he said, “But the punch-line never arrived.”

Gundane said he hoped that his involvement with the song would turn him into an expert on British politics and economics in the same way ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ had turned Geldof and Bono into the world’s leading experts on Africa.

“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,” said Gundane.

I still have not heard the song, but look forward to doing so.

Be Sociable, Share!

Derek Ouellette

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • LexCro

    Awesome post, Derek! I’ve always wondered how all of this went over in Africa. It’s great to finally hear something on this from the African perspective. I’ll add that it’s funny to hear mostly secularized Westerners inquire about the African awareness of Christmas when (1) There are so many ardent Christians in Africa and (2) Africa has had such a rich Christian heritage (even before there was a “West”).

    Here’s a minor quibble: There are a few typos that distract from the quality of this post. But this is still wonderful to read. Thanks, man.

    • Derek Ouellette

      Thanks for letting me know about the typos. I wrote this post in about 15 minutes just before I ran out to work. Still haven’t read it over, but I’ll fix first chance I get.

      Be blessed.

  • Tricia

    Thanks for directing me to this one, Derek. Love it.

  • Tom

    I don’t think the song actually exists. The original article is satire.

    • Derek Ouellette

      You may be right. That would explain why I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet. I was hoping that perhaps it was just that new.

  • Jon F. Dewey

    The problem is…what you are saying is true. The song IS patronizing, as is the attitude of the singers. Its “white man’s burden” all over again, really. While I really disagree with the idea of people starving in other countries, rock singers “donating” their time (but not own money) to causes such as this get my goat. U2 would still be a club act if not for their televised appearance at Live Aid. Speaking as a former rock musician, I suspect really that the acts did the “charity event” more for exposure than for charity.