Tag Archives: band aid

Bob Geldof: “arrogant… pompous… smug”

The BBC/Band Aid row rumbles on. Rageh Omaar yesterday took the opportunity to write a fascinating and timely piece about the inevitable politicisation of aid that happens in all conflicts. It’s worth reading in full, but here is the crucial point:

Let’s get some things straight: humanitarian operations in the midst of large-scale civil wars where territory is held by rival powers are almost always politicised and misused. The idea that this never happens and that NGOs are never put in situations where, in order to get the aid delivered, they have to work with and often through the powers that control the territory where the suffering is taking place is a ridiculous fantasy. It’s happening now, in Congo; in my own country, Somalia, where al-Qaida-affiliated groups have dictated how the World Food Programme delivers emergency food; and also in Zimbabwe, where I have just spent two weeks talking to aid workers having to work through government bodies in delivering aid to prisoners of Mugabe.

Bob Geldof wasn’t too happy with Omaar’s suggestion that the BBC story might be accurate and wrote a riposte today. Geldof might have a point but, frankly, I got lost in the forest of abuse. His 1500-word article was little more than a series of personal insults aimed at Omaar:

“how arrogant you are, how self-important…”

“your pathetic interpretation of press freedom…”

“your pompous guff…”

“your smug certitudes and thin pieties…”

“You people, you self-important mediators of ‘news’…”

It’s great to see such an important debate reduced to name-calling.

Do they know it’s Christmas? Yes. Yes, they do.

I’m back in Britain for a long Christmas break. The streets are full of fairy lights, trees are in windows and everything is covered with a thin layer of snow.

The shops – busy as ever, despite the recession – play an endless stream of Christmas songs. Noddy Holder must make a packet.

It was similar in Nairobi as I was doing last bits of shopping before coming home for Christmas. It was impossible to go to Nakumatt without hearing Cliff Richard’s ‘Mistletoe and Wine’ or The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’. Someone had clearly bought a Christmas greatest hits song and stuck it on repeat.

So, while standing in the queue I heard  a classic from 1984 booming out. Do they know it’s Christmas? Yes. Yes, they do.

Just in case you’re ever stuck in a queue at an African supermarket at Christmastime and want to sing along, here are the lyrics

It’s Christmastime / There’s no need to be afraid

At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy

Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer / Pray for the other ones

At Christmastime it’s hard, but when you’re having fun

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

Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears

And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime

The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life

(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows / No rain nor rivers flow

Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

(Here’s to you) raise a glass for everyone

(Here’s to them) underneath that burning sun

Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Feed the world / Feed the world / Feed the world

Let them know it’s Christmastime again

Feed the world

Let them know it’s Christmastime again

Africa and stereotypes

Three examples of crass stereotyping of Africa from the last two days:

One: Twitter decides to commemorate World Aids Day by turning every tweet about Africa red. Because AIDS equals Africa, see?

Two: The BBC wonders whether an African team can win next year’s World Cup. And how do they choose to decsribe Africa? “The world’s poorest and most underdeveloped land”

Three: In a piece commemorating the 25th anniversary of Bob Geldof saving Africa launching Band Aid, the Independent’s Paul Vallely describes how Band Aid raised £100m for “the stricken people of Africa”. No, it was for the stricken people in the Ethiopian highlands.