It might very well be snowing in Morocco, to be fair, Bob…

Those who have been reading this blog for a while may remember some conversations I had with a very special character we nicknamed Anonymous Boy. He was the one who thought Africa was one country and it was all a desert. In case you don’t remember, you can read about it here.

For a long time I was baffled by where he got this perception, since although his spelling, grammar and logic was somewhat flawed, he didn’t seem to be completely mentally deficient or incapable of grasping basic concepts. But now… courtesy of a twitter conversation with Tash, I think I’ve figured out who to blame… Bob Geldoff.

Have any of you ever listened closely to the lyrics of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

It’s Christmastime
There’s no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer

Pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas

bells that ring there are the clanging
chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
(Oooh) Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

(Here’s to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here’s to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again

(Bob Geldof & Midge Ure)

Let’s have a little look at some blinding issues with these lyrics:

There won’t be any snow in Africa this Christmastime: surely that’s more about climate than poverty. I can’t remember anyone ever saying, god I wish we had more money so it would snow?? Anyway, there are ski resorts in Morocco, where it may very well snow at Christmas so there. It also won’t be snowing in London, Sydney or Southern California… maybe it’s time to expand some of the aid to these snow-impoverished nations too.

Where nothing ever grows: The UK imports 14% of all it’s fruit from African nations including South Africa, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Egypt… wrong again Bob.

No rain nor rivers flow: Clearly he’s missed out on the glory of a Highveld thunder storm… there are also upwards of 60 rivers in Africa, including the NILE, which happens to be the longest river in the world and flows through Egypt, Ethiopia, Burundi and Sudan.

Do they know it’s Christmastime at all: I’m going to go with probably not and they’re unlikely to care since 45% of the continent is Muslim and couldn’t give a toss about your Christian holiday.

I’m sure Sir Bob’s heart was in the right place but his facts were severely lacking and I can’t help but wonder how much good this kind of bizarre imagining of Africa does. It’s almost as bad as this horrendous Cadbury’s advert that depicts African’s as grinning childlike buffoons.

How is this supposed to break down this “us” and “them” perception between the developed and the developing world


  1. My goodness, that ad reminds me of early footage from the colonies, depicting ‘the natives at work and play’. *shudder*

    The line in ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ that always bugged me was,
    ‘Feed the world / Let them know it’s Christmastime’. Because eating is how we express how important this festive season is to us! 😛


  2. Erm… eating *is* how we express how important the festive season is to us! Mmm… Christmas…

    Um, anyway, yes. Saw the Cadbury advert in the cinema and thought it was fairly telling. Just try producing fully manufactured chocolate bars rather than cocoa beans and seeing if the happy sparkly explosion effects get you past import quotas then…

  3. Jen

    No it won’t be snowing here this Christmas, and frankly I want a song to rectify that situation as well. C’mon Bob, share the love. I must say I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to the lyrics of this song, it’s the only reason I can imagine for never picking up on “the clanging chimes of doom.” Of doom I tell you! Ah, I’ve wasted my life.

  4. lesreveriesderowena

    Thank you for this! Coincidentally, I also wrote a blogpost about this same song but your article was more eloquent 🙂

    1. Abbi

      Thanks. That song makes me furious… And it’s as if no one has noticed how nonsensical it is!

      1. lesreveriesderowena


      2. Well done, Abbi, you’re spot on about that truly patronising song. Harry Browne’s recent book, The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power) draws similar conclusions about the song, the new colonialism and philanthrocapitalism in Africa.

        1. Abbi

          Thank-you. When I first wrote this blog I think a lot of people struggled to get where I was coming from. It’s good for human beings to help each other out but when this is done is a way that makes those receiving into lesser beings and massively profits the helper you have to wonder how much good is actually being done.

          1. Amen (and other expressions of agreement) to that!

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