London, United Kingdom – The world burst into spontaneous applause today after Bob Geldof announced that Band Aid’s song for Africa – ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ – had cured the Ebola virus. Band Aid is the super-pop-cum-aid group that stopped famine in Ethiopia with song in the early 80s.
Band Aid’s original, star-studded recording was the first time pop artists from the UK had reached out to the dark continent. The results were historic. People in Africa got to know about the festive season, while Band Aid alerted the world to the fact that Africa existed.
A kwashiorkor kid of a medley, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ offers surprising insight into Africa. The lyrics describe Africa as “a world of dread and fear … where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow”. The song explains that in Africa the only “Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom”.
After its hunger-ending success, Band Aid declared war on Ebola mid-November 2014. A second version of ‘Do They Know Its Christmas’ was recorded in London’s Sarm Studios a few days later, on Saturday, 15 November. The 30th anniversary, Ebola-bopping version of the single features audio activists Bono, Roger Taylor, One Direction, Sinead O’Conner, Seal, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and many, many more.
The song was released to the public the next day (Sunday), and by Monday morning was number one on the charts thanks to 200,000 downloads in less than 24 hours. By Thursday 20 November 2014 – two days later – Ebola was no more.
“I killed Ebola,” Geldof beamed when he made his announcement outside of Sarm Studios in London. “If I didn’t do this myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. It is like a miracle. But a miracle that I made,” the founder of Band Aid said.
“That Ebola was stopped right in its tracks, and all it took was our old song,” Geldof added. “The virus is now as dead as my rock career,” joked the man who had a number one UK single in 1979 called ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ with The Boomtown Rats.
Geldof was joined in London by that slightly more successful rocker, Bono of U2. Bono will be remembered for curing the world of AIDS and his pretentious sunglasses. Next to Bono and Geldof stood a man called Midge Ure, whose sole claim to fame was that he’d once brought Ultravox back from the dead.
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– Mandy de Waal is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town.
– Featured image via Wikimedia Commons