London Indymedia

Protests at Band Aid Whitewashing Poverty Issues

features | 18.11.2004 09:37 | G8 2005 | Culture | Globalisation | London

On the 14th November outside the recording studios in Hampstead where "Do They Know It's Christmas" - Band AID 20 (named after the 20-year anniversary of the original) was being re-recorded, demonstrations took place by protesters arguing that Band Aid is little more than a screen "whitewashing the real issues behind world poverty". Shouts of 'real aid, not band aid', 'don't whitewash Africa' and boo's were audiable over the screams of fans and onlookers. One protester was arrested for handing out leaflets explaining the reasons for the protest - [read full report].

Protesters from the Dissent! Network, organising against the G8 Summit, argue that the song is obnoxious, patronising and out of date with the real situation in Africa

"This isn't about creating a record to support people in Africa- this is a kodak moment for Bono, Midge Ure and for Blair to manipulate public opinion and push through a destructive economic agenda to serve Western economic interests."

As Britain gears up for the G8 summit next July, Blair's government together with Bono and Geldof are doing everything they can to convince the public into believing that real action is being taken on issues such as Climate change and poverty in Africa.

The original Band AID single produced in 1984 raised £9.5 million. The 2003 G8 summit in Evian cost £400 million. The security budget for the 2005 summit in Scotland is set at £150 million. The war in Iraq has so far cost the UK taxpayer £80 billion pounds and rising. The continuing loss of life due to poverty and war is unquantifyable.

International development campaigners - the World Development Movement (WDM) - also condemned the lyrics as promoting a "negative and inaccurate picture of Africa and its problems." The organisation, which has been campaigning on issues effecting Africa for over 30 years and was one of the founders of both the fair trade movement and Jubilee 2000, drew attention to several lines in the song which it described as "patronising, false and out of date".

Director of WDM, Mark Curtis said on Tuesday 14th: "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."

Several initiatives are now underway to re-write the lyrics - upload your own, or send lyrics or recorded audio files to

The 2005 G8 summit will take place in Gleneagles, Scotland next July. Groups all over the world will come together in a global day of action to resist the summit and many of its policies, while groups involved with the Dissent! network are planning protests in Scotland.

Following the demonstration outside the recording studio, protester Karen said "stunts such as Band Aid do little to heal the deep wounds caused around the world by current global economic policy and instead sharpen the destructive swords of global capitalism."

Jenny Leathen, a campaigner from Liverpool commented that "The G8 Action Plan for Africa sets out a blueprint for the continent which is free-market, free-trade, privatised, deregulated and genetically modified. Just as the G8 will privatize Africa, Central and South America, Oceania, the Arctic and possibly Mars, they are privatizing the atmosphere with the Koyoto Protocol and its Carbon Trading market."

Mark Curtis from WDM continued:

"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."

"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."

"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"



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Nottingham spoof version of Do they know it is Christmas?

06.12.2004 19:02

One version can be downloaded from:

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