Well, they’re at it again…Bob Geldof and his emmisaries of altruism, riding in on their chargers to save Africa with a carefully exploited release of Do They Know It’s Christmas. Before I go on, let me add the disclaimer now:
- I’m not against charity;
- I’m not against promoting good causes;
- hell, I’m not even against anyone buying the single … anything that will help to bring the current outbreak under control can only be a good thing.
It’s the rank hypocrisy and shameless self-promotion that I drawn the line at. Yes, it’s good that an estimated £1m has been raised for charity from the release of the single (there seems to be no mention which charities exactly), but all of a sudden it’s Bob Geldof that’s going to save poor old Africa again, this time from the menace of Ebola. From a very illuminating piece in the Telegraph, Bryony Gordon writes:
“Give us your f***ing money,” was Geldof’s message way back when, and it is his message now – you all dig deep and give up your hard earned cash because these famous people who make millions singing songs have deigned to give up a few hours of their time on a weekend.
Bob Geldof has an estimated net worth of $150 million, which pales into insignificance when compared to Bono ($650m reputedly). Throw in a sprinkling of tax evasion and you begin to understand why people view such actions with a healthy dose of cynicism. If those two alone donated a mere 10% of their estimated wealth there’d be a cool $75m in the kitty. Not bad for starters. Even if they’d just come out and said “Buy our song…we’ve put a million quid in ourselves to start the ball rolling,” we might not be feeling so condescended to.
When I took part in a Children in Need charity football match last weekend, not only did I give up my own time, I had to make a donation just to take part. And money is a big issue in the Ebola outbreak. The disease has been shown to be easily contained with adequate infrastructure and resources in place. In the U.S., Spain, and even Nigeria (incidentally, also a country in Africa) the threat of contagion was quickly snuffed out. Poverty is the real underlying cause to this epidemic, a lack of adequate facilities, education, properly trained healthcare workers, etc.
And that is where the biggest irony lies – multi-millionaires singing about alleviating poverty. Do they ever stop to consider that the reason many people are poor is because some people insist on getting as rich as they possibly can?
Most people are aware of Ebola. They’re aware of the devastation it is causing in West Africa. I’ve blogged at least twice about it. They’re also fully capable of making their own decisions on where to donate their money. We don’t need sermons, or guilt-trips, or a re-working of a tired old song that does nothing but insult Africans (a lot of whom feel it promotes negative stereotypes) – like in this Guardian piece.
If I’m going to donate, it’s going to be the real heroes, the people of medicins sans frontieres and all the other volunteers on the ground. You won’t find them bathing in the spotlight of celebrity, or in a recording studio – their faces remain hidden behind a hazmat suit as they risk their lives, so selflessly, to help others. If you want to do the same, you can via this link for medicins sans frontieres: http://www.msf.org.uk/make-a-donation
But if you want to download the song and do your bit for charity, well that’s fine, too … but do it because you want to, and not because someone tells you to.