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Smug & Patronizing? Top Selling Ebola Charity Single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” draws Controversy



Band Aid 30Do They Know It’s Christmas“, the Bob Geldof-led Band Aid 30 charity single is reportedly the fastest selling single of the year in the UK. The song is also currently the Number 1 song in the UK.

All proceeds from the single are going towards efforts to curb Ebola in West Africa. So why are people complaining?

The UK Independent reports that “Damon Albarn suggested the song patronises Africa, while Lily Allen called the collective effort “smug”.” Emeli Sandé whose father is from Zambia and features on the song, has now lashed out against the lyrics. Stating that she suggested rewrites which were rejected.

While some people agree that the lyrics evoke Africa as a dark place in need of help, others point out that the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa is a catastrophic situation. With over 5000 dead and entire countries in disarray. Therefore, lyrics and political correctness do not matter, as long as people are being helped.

BellaNaijarians, We will love to hear your view! 

Watch the video and check out the lyrics below.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was written by Ure, Midge / Geldof, Bob – Lyrics

[One Direction]
It’s Christmas time there’s no need to be afraid

[Ed Sheeran]
At Christmas time we let in light and we banish shade

[Rita Ora]
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy

[Sam Smith]
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time

[Paloma Faith]
But say a prayer and pray for the other ones

[Emeli Sandé]
At Christmas time its hard but while you’re having fun

There’s a world outside your window and it’s a world of dread and fear

[Dan Smith]
Where a kiss of love can kill you

[Angelique Kidjo]
And there’s death in every tear

[Chris Martin]
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom

Well tonight we’re reaching out and touching you

Bring peace and joy this Christmas to West Africa

[Ellie Goulding]
A song of hope where there’s no hope tonight (ooh)

[Sinead O’Connor]
Why is comfort to be feared, why is to touch to be scared

How can they know it’s Christmas time at all

[One Direction]
Here’s to you

[Olly Murs]
Raise a glass to everyone

Here’s to them

[Sam Smith]
And all their years to come

[Rita Ora]
Can they know it’s Christmas time at all

[Chorus – all singers]
Feed the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feel the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Heal the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feel the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Heal the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feed the world let them know it’s Christmas time again
Feel the world let them know it’s Christmas time again

Lyrics Source: Metro Lyrics


  1. tunmi

    November 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Yes, they do know it is Christmas. There are several Christians in west Africa. People and their privilege sometimes. Was this an attempt to recreate We are the World? At least that was more encompassing in its message.

  2. Kay

    November 24, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Motley Musings, a Nigerian blogger has a fantastic write-up on this. It’s titled:
    Dear #BandAid30: Yes, We Know It’s Christmas in Africa
    It’s a worthwhile read.

    • Akinwande

      November 24, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      The Naked Convos also had a well written post on this today (Lets Talk Band Aid 30 – Can Music (Really) Still Heal The World?) I think it’s all just ridiculous.

  3. Babym

    November 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Omo I cant even judge in this matter o cus we AFRICANS we are not the poster children for giving and helping others. This is not about poiltical correctnes. Are children dying of ebola?? are pple tring to raise money through this song?? will the money get to the ebola victims and thier families?? then thats is all! no sensationalism needed. Merry xams in advance.

  4. bruno

    November 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    the way you present your self that how people would see you. africa isnt presenting themsekves well to the world, thats why people think of us this way.

  5. Ephi

    November 24, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Africa keeps being the continent everyone pities and hands aid to.
    I personally was annoyed when I watched Bob Geldof on xfactor talking about saving Africa from ebola like he was the saviour of the world. So yes, I do find it very patronizing.
    Same way they keep showing ads of bone-thin starving children, one would think that is how the average African child looks. IMHO the media deliberately paints a bleak desolate picture of Africa, I don’t know what their aim is. Every continent has its struggles abeg.

    • Mike Doe

      November 25, 2014 at 12:37 am

      Do something if ur annoyed. What are you doing to change perception? Yes they pity how lazy africans are, yes they pity that we are selfish fucks, yes they pity that we care more bout individual success, yes they pity that we so naive to sell our own people for riches, yes they pity that we can be easily manipulated, yes they pity that we are too stupid to move forward, Yes the same way you pity that KID that’s used in every advert about africa. don’t blame the europeans, blame ourselves, our mentality as a continent is still a child’s mentality. Learn from the adults EUROPE.

  6. Taiwo

    November 24, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Yep we know its Christmas over here in West Africa. Need proof? Visit Idumota.

  7. baboushka

    November 24, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    BN una too like to carry last! Are you only just now hearing about this controversy that has been around for almost two weeks now. Anyway there is an Africans for Africa Ebola song out already done by several West African artists in local languages that the people actually understand please find it and report on it. You don’t pay me otherwise i would have linked it here buahahahaha!

  8. fixnigeriaseries

    November 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Rolling my eyes so fast they almost falling out of their sockets.. Puh-leease!!! Nigerians/Africans are beginning to annoy me with the thoughtless ease on which they jump on this ‘they-are-patronizing-us’ bandwagon. Newsflash: A huge portion of Africa DOES NOT KNOW its Christmas!!! All’y’all sitting in your urban complexes typing from your gadgets forget that the bigger part of Africa/Nigeria resides in the rural areas and live lives fraught with poverty, disease and ignorance. So you have access to the internet, that automatically makes the whole of Africa poverty-free? Please let’s think before we type.

    • Ikido

      November 25, 2014 at 12:07 am

      So the one Bob Geldof sang how many years ago? Has it solved the poverty in Nigeria/Africa?
      You might as well just position your self with your backside protruding, get some lube/Vaseline, and wait for Oyibo to come and screw(sorry save) you

  9. fixnigeriaseries

    November 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Because we’ve become numb and desensitized to the suffering and poverty directly around us, does not mean the rest of the world has. So rather than criticizing people who are trying (if they have ulterior motives, we cannot judge because we don’t know their hearts), let’s reach out and ensure all of Africa knows its Christmas!

  10. Jaygirl

    November 24, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    It’s really unfair that people have to criticise everything. Can I ask what Lily Allen and all the other people complaining have done to help a single Ebola victim? I understand Sande’s annoyance regarding her rewrites with Eryka Badu being pushed aside but please anyone who hasn’t done a thing for the people haunted by this deadly virus should stay out of the way of those trying to help. We are thankful Ebola was well fought in Nigeria but other countries haven’t been as fortunate. Until we can help them I think the best thing to do is pray for them and support those who can.

  11. Thatgidigirl

    November 24, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Its okay for us to insult and criticise our country/continent yet we get offended when others do. Who are we fooling? tell yourself that Africa isn’t a dark continent the next time you go out to turn on your generator, when you read about a mob that attacked a girl for dressing indecently, or when you read about the missing chibok girls. We need help, face it.

  12. @edDREAMZ

    November 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Am not proud being an african that i must say no doubt….

  13. Ayo

    November 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Bob Geldof and the others are contributing the way they know how. Instead of appreciating their concern and effort we sit around looking for an affront where there is none. Once again Africa has a challenge and people outside of her are doing more, raising real money. If you haven’t raised as much for Ebola victims as this group has then pocket your offended sensibilities they are useless to us.

  14. Mike Doe

    November 25, 2014 at 12:26 am

    the lyrics are more than patronising. very damaging to the perception of west africa and africa as whole but lets call a spade a spade, if majority of the population are still living below poverty line, it’s a failed continent so he’s done it and he’s raised awareness and raised money that african artists are still dreaming of raising. What have african artist done themselves to raise the awareness? where is the ebola awareness concerts? so don’t blame geldof for using his initiative just because we have the priviledge to be online whilst majority of others like us can’t even drink clean water. When africa starts taking responsibility then we too can create band aid for less privileged in europe….WELL DONE JERE GELDOF

  15. Mike Doe

    November 25, 2014 at 12:29 am

    isn’t it ironic that africans that tries to defend africas perception are the ones that come from privileged backgrounds? Face reality and look in the mirror

  16. mark edo

    December 1, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    All those artist cant write a new song…Rehashing old lyrics of over 30 years Do they know its 2014 ? Do they know that West Africa is not a country

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