‘Tonight thank god it’s them, instead of you’
Do They Know It’s Christmas is undeniably one of the biggest Christmas songs of all time.
The 1984 band aid hit makes the rounds every festive period with friends, family, and foes all singing along to every lyric while it rings out through pub speakers across the nation.
But recently, listeners have been paying extra close attention to the lyrics and many are claiming that the song hasn’t aged well at all.
The song was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure almost 40 years ago in response to famine in Ethiopia at the time.
The famine was described back then as “the closest thing to hell on Earth”.
It’s reported that somewhere between 300,000 to 1.2 million people died and over 200,000 children were orphaned.
Geldof hoped that his song would raise £70,000 for Ethiopia but within a year they’d raised a massive £8 million.
However now some people can’t believe that the song 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.
Samarajiva wrote: “It’s not just that these lyrics haven’t aged well. They were never good at all. They take an ignorant and colonial attitude, more about making white people feel good than helping anyone.”
One lyric that has angered Samarajiva is the line: “There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time, the greatest gift they’ll get this year is life.” In response, they wrote: “I mean, this is all wrong. It does snow in Africa, although not a lot.”
Another lyric was: “Where nothing ever grows, No rain or rivers flow, Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?” to which Samarajiva wrote: “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.”
Samarajiva added: “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’.”
While a third commented: “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.”
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