African musos’ Ebola song
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