26th Nov 2014 Social media in West Africa is alive with a movement by some Africans on several online portals calling for massive support for a song released recently by some West African musicians as an alternative to Band Aid.
Despite his reaching number one in the UK charts, Bob Geldof’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” song has been widely criticized with complaints about the rewritten lyrics. The claim is that lyrics containing stuff such as 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.
The alternative song by West Africans, on the other hand “Africa stop Ebola” which is sung in French and local languages like Malinke, Soussou, Kissi and Lingala, uses rap and melodies that are distinctive to West Africa, to urge people to take Ebola seriously and adopt healthier and cleaner lifestyles. The songs also stress the importance of hand washing and importantly, urge listeners to see a doctor if anyone feels sick.
According to song writer Chirinos, the lyrics of the song were written to be as clear as possible and to erase the myths and confusion surrounding the disease. He said, “We hope that the song will do two things,” he said. “First, that it will rebuild people’s trust in the health services in their countries. There’s been a total lack of trust because of all the misinformation and a lot of cases of people going to churches and local healers to try to get Ebola medicine.”
The music initiative is pioneered by renowned musician from Ivory Coast, Tiken Jah Fakoly, who is responsible for bringing the other musicians from different parts of West Africa to raise awareness about the disease. He was moved when he saw TV images of people in quarantine in the worst-affected countries and decided to do something about it.
He said, “When I saw those terrible images, I called the other musicians and said that we have to do something to sensitize the people about this disease”.
“I praise Bob Geldof’s initiative and he has raised a lot of money, but we must try and avoid stigmatizing Africa as a continent that needs pity.”
The song’s producer says “Africa Stop Ebola” has sold more than two hundred and fifty thousand copies since its unofficial release earlier this month, and the proceeds have been donated to medical charity Doctors without Borders.
Other artists featured on the song include Malian musicians, Miriam and Amadou, Salif Keita, and Oumou Sangare.
News and comments about the movement can be found on twitter with the hashtag AfricastopEbola, or by performing a custom Google search.