Bob Geldof is at it again: he’s in the business of saving Africa! This time it is West Africa and the nations stricken with Ebola. His BAND AID 30 song has been heavily criticized for its insensitive lyrics and its lack of insight into the real Africa.
‘At Christmas time it’s hard but while you’re having fun… There’s a world outside your window and it’s a world of dread and fear.’ Emeli Sande and Elbow sing.
There is no doubt that the people of Sierra Leone will not be having fun this Christmas time. ‘Sierra Leone just cancelled Christmas!’ was a headline from the Independent. It was announced that all Christmas celebrations have been cancelled for fear that gatherings and celebrations may perpetuate the spread of the Ebola virus.
‘How can they know it’s Christmas time at all?’ – Bono booms out.
If Christmas is all about raising a glass and having fun, then the answer is truly a resounding, ‘No!’ they can’t know it is Christmas time at all.
All together now – ‘Heal the world, let them know it’s Christmas time again…’
So the question is: who will save and heal West Africa this Christmas time?
BAND AID 30 was a strong contender for number 1 in the UK charts this Christmas. Despite its initial number 1 success, as Christmas week has approached the single has slumped down to number 17. I have not followed the UK pop charts as closely as I have the Ebola story. I have followed the Ebola story with great interest, prayed constantly for those afflicted, watched on in horror at a disease so dreadful that those dying cannot be comforted by human touch, I have admired those who have sacrificed their lives to serve and listened as the world’s commentators have offered their opinions.
Ebola has especially ravished two West African countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, exposing fragile health systems, lack of education, poverty and suspicious beliefs, as well as traditional burial customs, which have all contributed to the spread of the deadly virus. However this is not all that Ebola has exposed, and it would seem that there is not only a ‘world outside our window which is a world of dread and fear’, but that the dread and fear are very much inside the house. Ebola has exposed the irrational fear of those who are NOT from the great continent of Africa. An irrational fear that at best ignores the facts, (like all those who were quarantined in America on their return from Africa, just because they came from the generic ‘AFRICA’. They were still quarantined even if the country they had just come from was completely clear of the virus and over 1000s of miles away from the epicenter of the epidemic), and a fear at worst, that acts with a complete lack of compassion, exposed by self-serving. It goes something like this: as long as Ebola does not come here, we will all be OK; as long as it stays in West Africa where it belongs, the rest of us can get on with our lives.
Like when Kent Brantly was attacked for taking Ebola back to America. If he wanted to be a hero and save West Africa, they said, he should stay there and get treated for his Ebola there too. Ebola has also exposed the self-righteous hypocrisy of the intellectual elite, those who write their newspaper columns from the comfort of their offices in London and New York. Those who feel they understand Africa and its dynamics, they know what Africa needs and does not need. And what it does not need is ‘saving’ from the West. They mock Bod Geldof and his BAND AID song, calling him a do-gooder, cringing at his lack of sensitivity to a developing Africa and his white saviourism, how dare Bob Geldof suggest that Africa needs to be ‘saved’ or ‘healed’.
Ebola has exposed the state of our human hearts amidst death by a plague that ravishes, whether we live in West Africa and it is our daily reality, or whether we watch from a distance full of fear and dread. Ebola has struck fear into hearts world-wide, as if it was the greatest enemy to beset man. So who will save West Africa this Christmas time?
The bad news is that it is not only West Africa that needs saving. Ebola has been referred to on many occasions as the unseen enemy, but what if there were a greater enemy that affects us all, that is more deadly and horrific? An enemy that comes to us all whether we live in plenty or poverty, whether we live in West Africa or America. This enemy is unseen too, but it is spiritual and not biological. This enemy is what separates us from God and leads to his condemnation, and there is no human vaccine or treatment, as we cannot save ourselves.
The good news is, that Christmas is not only about raising a glass, and having fun. Christmas is all about celebrating that a saviour has come. The good news is, that even those (and probably especially those) in Sierra Leone can know it’s Christmas time too. They too can know that Jesus was born into this world, to save West Africa, to save America, to save the world from their sin, a worse plague to infect man than Ebola.
‘For God so loved the world (even Ebola struck West Africa, as well as the fearful others looking on), that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (and not through pop stars or well-meaning Westerners). Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.’ John 3:16-18.
Thank God for Christmas, that he sent his Son into this world and thank God for the most wonderful saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Joy to the world, joy to West Africa, the saviour has come – happy Christmas everyone!
I would like to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment…