The charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?" was released this week amid much fanfare. The update of the original Band Aid song brings together many of the UK's top music acts, including Ed Sheeran and One Direction, to raise funds to tackle the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Notable for his absence, however, is Fuse ODG, who turned down Bob Geldof's offer to appear on the song. The British-Ghanaian singer thinks that the song's lyrics "play into the constant negative portrayal of the continent of Africa in the west." Instead of celebrating Africa, "a resource-rich continent with unbridled potential," the song "absolutely did not reflect what Africa is truly about and I started to question whether this was something I wanted to be a part of."
"I pointed out to Geldof the lyrics I did not agree with," he writes in the Guardian, "such as the lines 'Where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear', and 'There is no peace and joy in west Africa this Christmas'. For the past four years I have gone to Ghana at Christmas for the sole purpose of peace and joy. So for me to sing these lyrics would simply be a lie." While not disputing the importance of the single or the need to tackle the Ebola crisis, he is concerned with the larger image of the continent as "always being seen as diseased, infested and poverty-stricken," and that in the long term harms Africa. "That image of poverty and famine is extremely powerful psychologically. With decades of such imagery being pumped out, the average westerner is likely to donate £2 a month or buy a charity single that gives them a nice warm fuzzy feeling; but they are much less likely to want to go on holiday to, or invest in, Africa. If you are reading this and haven’t been to Africa, ask yourself why." He also points readers towards the movement he founded, This is New Africa (TINA), "a movement empowering people to shed a positive light on Africa."
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