LONDON – Do Africans actually know it’s Christmas? The Studio Exec investigates:
The idea that Africans don’t know when Christmastime is originates from the song written by Midge Ure for Band Aid thirty years ago and recently reissued to raise money for the Ebola crisis. Our Africa expert Dr. Chadden Berstill, however, contests the factual grounding of the Ultravox singer’s lyrics.
Chadden told the Studio Exec EXCLUSIVELY:
Africa is the second largest and second most populous continent in the world. It is made up of 52 recognised countries with a total population of over 1.1 billion people of whom 400 million are Christians. The idea that these Christians, or indeed the non-Christians who live in a world which is increasingly availing itself of technology and education, would somehow not know it was Christmas is stupid beyond belief. Even in famine struck areas, or places where Ebola has claimed many lives, there is no evidence that the Gregorian calendar has ceased to exist and major religious festivities have been forgotten. The only African countries that do not use the Gregorian calendar as its civil calendar are Ethiopia and Eritrea.
But even this calendar is a Coptic Christian calendar which still dates Christmas on the 7th of January.
That must be a mistake. Everyone knows Christmas is December 25th.
No. The Ethiopian date is actually based on the older Julian calendar and therefore can lay a claim to being more authentic.
Okay but the rest of the song is lyrically accurate, right?
No. The line ‘there won’t be any snow in Africa this Christmastime’ is inaccurate. There will be snow on Kilimanjaro, the Atlas mountains, high ground in Algeria and Morocco. The line ‘Nothing ever grows, no rain or river flows’ is arrant nonsense. Africa extends through the tropics, so there are plenty of places where it rains. And as for rivers the f*cking Congo flows for instance, oh, and the Nile.
Okay, but aren’t you being a little harsh. They are trying to help after all. And they changed some lyrics.
One of the most despicable lines: ‘Tonight thank God it’s them instead of you’ has thankfully gone, but one of the new lines about the Ebola epidemic gives the worst kind of scaremongering: ‘Where a kiss of love can kill you and there’s death in every tear’. Jesus Christ, close the borders! This makes Nineteenth Century missionaries look positively enlightened. I’m not doubting the good intentions of Harry Styles, Bob Geldof, Sinead O’Connor and Bono, but they’ve had thirty years to think about the negative impact of portraying Africa as one big homogeneous pit of misery and death. When I listen to this, I don’t think of the Africa I know with its color and variety. I think of Mordor.
Still Band Aid 30 is there if you want to buy it. Which is certainly better than doing nothing.