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People are shocked 'Do They Know It's Christmas' keeps being played after listening to the lyrics

People are shocked 'Do They Know It's Christmas' keeps being played after listening to the lyrics

The song makes several sweeping racist generalisations for the entire continent.

Loads of people have sang along to a song without actually thinking about the contents of what just came out of their mouths.

This is especially the case at Christmas when the same holiday hits get rolled out again and again and again.

But a few people have taken a moment to reflect on the lyrics to 1984 Band Aid hit 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' and they're not liking what they're hearing.

The song was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure nearly 40 years ago in response to the famine in Ethiopia, and it has been played every Christmas ever since.

It rocketed to become the 1984's Christmas number one, but even back then the song's message drew forth some criticism.

Others can't believe it is still being played today, with writer Indrajit Samarajiva taking to his blog on Medium to break down the song’s 'ignorant' and 'racist' lyrics.

"It’s not just that these lyrics haven’t aged well. They were never good at all," Samarajiva wrote.

"They take an ignorant and colonial attitude, more about making white people feel good than helping anyone."

Some of the lyrics that have been called out include: 'There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time, the greatest gift they'll get this year is life."

While the song was written as a famine was rocking parts of Africa, it's a pretty sweeping, mass generalisation for an entire continent.

Snow at the Northern Cape, South Africa, August 2013.
Nature Picture Library / Alamy

Another part of the song people have taken issue with is: "Where nothing ever grows, No rain or rivers flow, Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?"


Samarajiva wrote in response: "I mean, this is all wrong. It does snow in Africa, although not a lot."

"Food does in fact grow on the continent, they do have water, and North Africa, as part of the Roman Empire, was celebrating Christmas centuries before England."

Talk about problematic.

The Canada-born Sri Lankan writer went on to point out that, even as a metaphor, the lyrics are pretty rough symbolically.

Samarajiva said: "What does the metaphor communicate? That Africa is a desolate, dark place which white men have to get together and save?"

Social media users agreed and questioned why such problematic music is still played on the radio.

One user said: "Please listen to the lyrics carefully and then complain to your radio station/supermarket [due to] explicit racism and lack of Christmas spirit."

A second said: "'Never really appreciated what a nasty, selfish and 'unchristian' lyric [that] lies within 'Do They Know It's Christmas'."

A third said: "Out of all the Christmas songs to remain on the radio, how is it that 'Do They Know It's Christmas' hasn't been taken out of circulation."

So, this Christmas, let's be a bit better and not generalise a whole continent with a brutal generalisation of something that is profoundly untrue.

You could sign the petition to get the tune banned from radio stations or ask your local radio station to, you know, just not.

Featured Image Credit: BandAid/YouTube.

Topics: Racism, Christmas, News