“Do They Even Know It’s Christmas?” is voted as the worst Christmas song ever by this writer at a Catholic site. It's from Band Aid 1984. He says it disrespects Africa and has images of neo-colonialism. However, efforts to end poverty or hunger always improve the heart of the giver, and rarely the recipient in the long term, in my opinion.
Frankly, I didn’t remember it, even when I found it on the internet it brought back no memories. But it must mean a lot to some because there were people defending it, believing they had made a difference.
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was released in 1984 as part of Band Aid, an effort organized by Bob Geldof in response to a famine that struck the east African nation of Ethiopia. The song certainly captures the spirit of the season, as its charitable aims are noble enough. The problem, however, is in how these good intentions are translated into word and deed. The song describes Africa largely as a barren wasteland, “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears.” It continues in this vein. Africa, the onetime breadbasket of the Roman Empire and home of the Nile River is a land “where nothing ever grows, no rain nor rivers flow.” The title question likewise plays into the supposed desperation of the continent. The only “Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom.” The response to this call is supposed to be charity from the affluent West, to “feed the world” and thereby “let them know it’s Christmastime again.”
Now some of the fastest growing nations on earth are African. Yes, Ebola is an urgent humanitarian cause that must be addressed, but we have long passed the point where it is legitimate (if it ever was) to re-enforce the stereotypes of a billion people when we have a very specific health crisis at hand.