- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- D.R. Congo
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Band Aid is indeed a bandaid
Sir Bob Geldof’s reissued Band Aid 30 charity single, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, has reignited the debate on what is patronising and what is empowering.
Africa is the birthplace of humanity and the home of some of the earliest civilisations such as Ancient Egypt. It is the world’s second-largest continent of 54 countries speaking more than 2,000 languages, and boasts some of the largest quantities of crucial minerals such as copper, diamond, platinum, gold and bauxite, or aluminium ore. Then, of course, is its oil supplies in Nigeria, Libya and Angola. Yet its international image is one of poverty, a continent in constant need of charity from philanthropists.
An open letter from Race Equality: In Music Industry – signed by academic Dr Robbie Shilliam and Hugh Francis, chair of UK Black Music, among others said of Band Aid “…what many within the African British and black music communities see from the published lineup is another form of Eurocentrism – the European off to help the African, without engagement with African musicians in Britain, let alone on the African continent.”
It is a flawed idea that Western nations are constantly aiding Africa when in fact it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world. Health Poverty Action director Martin Drewry said of a recent report entitled Honest Accounts “This report – looking at the amount Africa loses to the rest of the world, in comparison with what it receives in aid and other inflows – is a response to a growing unease we have at Health Poverty Action that the UK public is not hearing the truth about our financial relationship with Africa. The truth is that rich nations take much more from Africa than they give in aid – including through tax dodging, debt repayments, brain drain, and the unfair costs of climate change – all of which rich nations benefit from.”
It estimated that while $134 billion flows into the continent predominantly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid, $192 billion is generated through Africa’s natural resources, but lines the pockets of foreign companies or goes to pay off global debt.
The report noted: “For years the British public have been asked to donate money to Africa, yet the end to poverty is nowhere in sight….It is time for the British government, politicians, the media, and NGOs ourselves to stop misrepresenting our ‘generosity’ and take action to tackle the real causes of poverty. This includes urgent government action to close down the UK’s network of tax havens; an end to the plundering of African resources by multinational companies; an end to ‘aid’ as loans and greater transparency and accountability in all other loan agreements; and ambitious and far-reaching climate change targets.”
Socialist Banner can add that Band Aid activist Bono is an expert on tax evasion.