African mu­sos’ Ebola song

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

DAKAR: Some of Africa’s top mu­si­cians yes­ter­day launched an al­ter­na­tive Ebola ap­peal song to Band Aid’s new record­ing of Do They Know It’s Christ­mas. Pro­ceeds will be used to fight the virus, which has killed more than 5 000 peo­ple in West Africa this year.

De­spite reach­ing num­ber one on the UK charts, Bob Geldof ’s Do They Know It’s Christ­mas song has been slammed by crit­ics who say the rewrit­ten lyrics, in­clud­ing Christ­mas bells that clang chimes of doom and a world of dread and fear/Where a kiss of love can kill you, are an in­sult to Africans.

By con­trast, Africa Stop Ebola, sung in French and lo­cal lan­guages in­clud­ing Malinke, Sous­sou, Kissi and Lin­gala, uses rap and melodies dis­tinc­tive to West Africa to urge peo­ple to take Ebola se­ri­ously and go to a doc­tor if they are ill.

Recorded by Malians Salif Keita, Ou­mou San­gare and duo Amadou and Mariam, Guinean Mory Kanté, Con­golese Bar­bara Kanam and Sene­galese rap­per Di­dier Awadi, among oth­ers, the song also warns peo­ple to wash their hands, avoid shak­ing hands with oth­ers and to re­frain from touch­ing dead bod­ies.

Tiken Jah Fakoly, a renowned Ivo­rian mu­si­cian who has ral­lied other artists to raise aware­ness, said he was touched by tele­vi­sion images of peo­ple in quar­an­tine in the worst-af­fected coun­tries, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

“When I saw those ter­ri­ble images, I called the other mu­si­cians and said we have to do some­thing to sen­si­tise the peo­ple about this dis­ease,” Fakoly said.

He praised Geldof’s ini­tia­tive, but added: “We must try to avoid stig­ma­tis­ing Africa as a con­ti­nent that needs pity.”

Africa Stop Ebola has sold 250 000 copies since its un­of­fi­cial re­lease ear­lier this month, with all the pro­ceeds go­ing to the med­i­cal char­ity Médecins sans Fron­tières. – Reuters

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