Editorial: Do They Know They’re Millionaires?

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? Maybe, maybe not, but given that the majority of Ebola-stricken West Africa claim Islam as their religion, they probably don’t care.

For the third time, a group of millionaire musicians have joined together to convince us to give them our money to help Africa. As the everyday person hands over their hard-earned wages, what do they get in return? A second cover, by a group of bad-to-mediocre musicians, of an already bad song.

Of course, you shouldn’t really be looking for anything in return when donating to Africa or any other worthwhile cause. It’s when people who routinely earn more for one concert than your parents do in a year try to sell you a substandard product in order to enhance their image that the problem arises.

If you were to combine the net worth of just five of Band Aid 30’s participants (Bono, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Roger Taylor of Queen, Ellie Goulding and ringleader Bob Geldof), estimated by www.celebritynetworth.com, you get a pretty sum: $1.07 billion. Given that these five people are only a small minority of the participants, their insistence that it is we, not them, who donate to help fund the fight against Ebola, reeks of smug condescension.

The project, like the two Band Aid projects before it, has the classic white/Western saviour complex about it. It comes as no great surprise then that the two biggest perpetrators of this complex in popular culture, Bono and Bob Geldof, are at the centre of the project.

Bono, who has an estimated net worth of $600 million, is pop culture’s premiere neoliberal, self-serving philanthropist. Eyob Sellassie, the founder of Africa Aid Action criticised Band Aid and Bono for not working with grassroots organisations in Africa and thus, increasing African dependency on Western aid.

All-in-all, Bono and Band Aid’s endeavour to give our money, not their money, to Africa, adds further credence to Paul Theroux’s theory that people like Bono are “people who wish to convince the world of their worth.”

Throughout all three of its incarnations and for nearly 30 years now Band Aid has presented a myopic view of Africa. Of course they know it’s Christmas. There is a great deal of Christians in Africa and the Western world shoves it down the throat of those who may not know. Rapper Fuse ODG cited Band Aid’s negative image of Africa as the reason he rejected the opportunity to participate in this year’s version.

Morrissey famously called the original Band Aid “the most self-righteous platform in the history of popular music”, and he was right, although it seems that Bono and Geldof better themselves in terms of self-righteousness with iteration.

Africa needs help, it really does. So if you have the money to help, please donate to charities like Concern Worldwide or Trócaire instead of stroking the egos of narcissistic venture capitalists masquerading as musicians such as Finglas’ most self-serving export.

Odrán de Bhaldraithe

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