JC | 16.11.2004 18:31
“There’s a world outside your window, And it’s a world of dread and fear, Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears”…“Where nothing ever grows”…“No rain nor river flows”…“(Here’s to them) underneath that burning sun”
Director of WDM, Mark Curtis today said: “The song perpetuates the myth that Africa’s problems can somehow be blamed on lack of rainfall and failed harvests. It conjures up an image of a continent inhabited entirely by starving children with flies on their faces sitting in the sunbaked bed of a dried up stream.”
“African poverty is not an unfortunate accident of geography and climate. It is largely the result of damaging policies such as free trade forced on Africa by rich countries.”
“This is not just any other pop song. The lyrics are important and will be heard in every home and shop in Britain over the next couple of months. They paint a misleading picture of Africa’s problems and the reality of African lives.”
“The problem in Ethiopia today is not that nothing will grow, the problem is that the coffee that they are growing is worthless because of the mismanagement of the global economy by countries like ours.”
“We would not wish to discourage anyone from buying the single but we are very disappointed that it wasn’t rewritten to provide a more accurate reflection of Africa and its problems.”
WDM appealed to journalists and broadcasters to represent the diversity, breadth and complexity of African life and not to reach for the standard disempowering image of famine and drought.
“Africans are not passive victims of circumstance, dependent on our handouts. In fact Africa gives us as much money in debt repayments as it receives in aid . Across the continent angry Africans are demanding trade justice, debt cancellation and the regulation of multinational companies .”
“The lesson of Jubilee 2000 was that the public are perfectly capable of understanding the abusive nature of the relationship between the rich and poor world. Once they understand the role of rich countries in keeping Africa poor their anger forces governments to listen and act. There is a danger that Band Aid could undo the valuable work that campaigners have done over the past two decades to transform public perceptions of Africa,” said Curtis.
He continued, “This record will not help solve the problems of Africa, though it may provide a lifeline for a few. Only massive public pressure demanding a radical change in Government policy will ensure that in twenty years time we are not back again for Band Aid 40.”
 According to the Pan African News Agency in 2002 alone, Africa paid $21.9 billion in external debt while official development assistance (ODA) to the region was $22.2 billion
 States of Unrest III: Resistance to IMF and World Bank policies in Poor Countries in 2003 (WDM, 2003) documents 111 episodes of protest of civil unrest in 25 developing countries (including eight African countries) directed against the policies that keep Africa poor. The previous year’s report documented protests in 23 countries almost half of which were African.
Dave Timms, Press Officer, WDM: 07711 875 345 or firstname.lastname@example.org