In November 2014, singer-songwriter Bob Geldof recorded a revamped version of Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" with a bunch of celebrities like Bono, Seal, Chris Martin from Coldplay, Sinéad O'Connor, and One Direction to raise money to fight the Ebola crisis.
Look at all these happy celebrities!
But there's one celeb who turned down the offer. Meet Fuse ODG.
Fuse ODG is an English musician of Ghanaian decent who's had some pretty successful hits over in the U.K. He's also the founding member of TINA, which stands for This Is New Africa, a movement aimed at rebuilding, empowering, and showing the beautiful sides of Africa. When it came time to put together celebrities for the Band Aid video, Geldof reached out to Fuse ODG, thinking it would be a perfect fit.
Fuse ODG almost jumped at the chance to be part of Band Aid, until he heard these lyrics...
Uh. Bono? The people of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea know what Christmas is, but since most of them are Muslim they probably don't care.
But that's a lot better than the original 1984 lyrics...
Ah yes, be thankful someone else is dying tonight and not you! Thank goodness they took that line out. Yikes. The 2014 version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" has been extremely successful since its release, with over a million views in a few days and over a million dollars raised for the Ebola crisis. Fuse penned an op-ed for The Guardian titled "Why I Had to Turn Down Band Aid," and four quotes really stuck out to me.
Here's what Fuse had to say about "Do They Know It's Christmas?":
But it wasn't just the lyrics that made the project so cringeworthy. For some reason, the music video opens with a clip of a half-clothed woman (who appears to be near death or possibly dead) being carried from her home by men in hazmat suits. What a way to start a music video, huh?
Fuse on how we talk about the Ebola crisis and its victims:
I really appreciate that Fuse stressed in his article that the intentions of Band Aid were no doubt good and that we have to be careful about the way we talk about the people of Africa and those who are affected by Ebola. Africa is not a monolith where everyone is starving and living in poverty, and efforts that frame this rich continent as such do more harm than good.