As we prepare to say goodbye to 2014, we are also preparing for our holiday festivities. Shopping centers are dressed up with glamorous décor, people’s homes are lit up at night, some of us begin to plan our trips back home and our radio stations dedicate some time if not all of their air play (like 106.7 FM) to delightful traditional and modern holiday hits.
Among these tracks, you’ll come across an 80’s gem with a clear message of hope, prosperity and the act of doing. To deliver this message, came together some of America’s finest of that era – Boy George, George Michael, Sting and others under the group name Band Aid.
“And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time/The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life.”
“Do They Know It’s Christmas Time”, released in 1984, was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure with hopes to raise money for relief of the famine in Ethiopia that occurred between 1983 and 1985. The song stayed at Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart for five weeks straight, having sold 3.7 million copies domestically – one million the first week alone.
Just as it was important and effective for top American artists to help spread the word for compassion and action 30 years ago, the case is still relevant today. This year, West Africa is suffering from an Ebola outbreak that according to UN.org has already claimed over 6,000 lives.
Ebola has been described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as, “the largest epidemic in history” having already affected Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Mali and other neighboring countries. America has seen two imported cases with one unfortunate death.
This year Band Aid 30, composed of a few legends and modern stars such as Bono, Sinead O’Connor, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, One Direction, Rita Ora and others, came together to raise funds for the Ebola crisis. The original lyrics of “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time”, were tailored to the outbreak to create an emphasis on the outcry for help.
“Bring peace and joy this Christmas to West Africa/A song of hope where there’s no hope tonight.”
The music video since it’s release has reached over 6.4 million views on YouTube, while many users have commented on their nostalgia from the early 80’s and how important it is to do one’s part when it comes to “healing” and “feeding” the world.
Although some major musicians have united in efforts to bring the rest of the world together for a very important cause, there have been others who too received great attention.
The United Nations has recently congratulated frontline workers, that have been battling Ebola in West Africa. On December 10, 2014, these workers were recognized as Time “Person of the Year” for their efforts in assuring that the outbreak did not cross borders and that the foundation for their health systems were laid appropriately.
In Geneva, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization Dr. Margaret Chan, opened a meeting that lasted for two days of donors, international agencies and officials from Ebola-affected countries, with the aim of laying the foundation for proper health systems. According to Dr. Chan, the three hardest-hit countries, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are among the poorest in the world and prior to the outbreak, only 1 to 2 doctors existed in these places to treat nearly 100,000 people.
The objectives according to WHO of these meetings are to, “identify the main constraints and challenges faced by countries in rebuilding and developing more resilient health systems, identify medium – to long-term solutions on how best to build and invest in systems that deliver basic essential quality health services and to agree on the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholder groups on their contribution to building resilient health systems.” By the looks of this report from UN.org, it seems like everyone from civilians to officials are doing their best to rid these countries of this disease.
Those of us in the United States do not hear much of this on the news. The word “Ebola” has toned down much since the initial outbreak and scare in the United States, that not many of us know what the status of the disease is currently like in West Africa. While we carry on with our usual lives, prepare for final exams, focus on Holiday shopping, etc., we may be reminded from time to time to do our part through a simple song on the radio.
With musicians and civilians working together to end the crisis, there is hope for a better year to come.