Sir Bob’s pet cause is arrogant and wrong

Published by The Sun (18th November, 2014)

Sometimes, even for secular saints, the truth is uncomfortable – as Sir Bob has discovered yesterday when cut off on television for swearing in response to my criticism of Band Aid’s latest outing.

I do not disparage his motives. Band Aid was originally a response to scenes of hideous starvation. Sadly it backfired.

The patronising lyrics implied nothing ever grows in Africa and asking if a continent filled with Christians knew Christmas.

And there was an arrogant failure to include African artists on a song and subsequent concerts supposed to save their continent.

Then the flood of relief efforts in Ethiopia mistakenly aided a murderous Marxist regime. It showed the flaws in an aid industry it inspired, with the idea Westerners can chuck mountains of cash at complex political situations and solve underlying problems.

Songs, stars and slogans do not save the world, however well-intended, and concerts do not end poverty.

The song also promoted the idea Africa is a pathetic place in need of our salvation – a corrosive image that deters trade and tourism.

It also hurts Africans.So little has been learned from these mistakes.

I covered the ebola epidemic in Liberia and saw amazing efforts made by local people and a tiny handful of Western charities. Now Bob is pretending he and his pals can save the day with a comparative pittance. The government has pledged £230m already.

The sums you give would be small change for the likes of Bob and Bono, who urge everyone else to hand over cash to their pet cause.

Band Aid 30 ignores the voices of Africans again, its lyrics are trite and its logo implies ebola struck the entire continent. It is outdated, patronising and perpetuating false myths. If that’s what you want, buy it.


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