Some African musicians have ‘risen to the occasion’ with the launch of their own Ebola campaign song intended to be an alternative to Bob Geldo’s “Do They Know Its Christmas?” which was released just last week. Celebrities including Bono, One Direction, Rita Ora, Chris Martin did a remix of the popular Band Aid 30’s song in an effort to raise money for the fight against Ebola in Africa.
Within a week of release, the song topped Britain’s single charts and sold over 200,000 copies, becoming the fastest-selling single of the year. However, the song has been criticized for its offensive and patronizing nature as some critics say it perpetuates stereotypes and unhelpful myths about the continent.
Some of West Africa’s top musicians including Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Didier Awadi, duo Amadu and Mariam and more, launched on Monday “Africa Stop Ebola.” Sung in French and local languages such as Malinke, Soussou, Lingala and Kissi, “Africa Stop Ebola” is a mixture of rap and unique West African melodies. The song, among other things, educates people about Ebola and urges them to take precaution in avoiding the disease.
“Africa stop Ebola” has sold 250,000 copies since it’s unofficial release earlier this month with all proceeds going to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). The launch on Monday was intended to kick-off a December campaign using song merchandise including T-shirts, flyers, posters, a video with English subtitles and a social media campaign to raise awareness about the disease.
Tiken Jah Fakoly, a renowned Ivorian musician devoted to raising awareness about the disease said he was touched by TV images of people in quarantine in the Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. “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,” said Fakoly.
On Band Aid 30’s song, Fakoly said “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.”