I hate Bob Geldof. I also hate Bono.
In fact I hate all celebrity do-gooders for the same reason that I hate charities.

It is not that I don’t believe that we should help those in need, it is because sooner or later the charity becomes a business and then it resembles any other soulless endeavour.  My view is based on experience and logic.

I got into the strange world of corporate events and marketing. I was a soft touch for a number of well-established charities and they descended on me like a shiver of sharks. I was sold by the usual pictures of snot-nosed children, with distended bellies and flies in their eyes. I was in. I was going to help to make the world a better place.

With the best intentions we did a load of work for free we helped to raise heaps of money for these well-known charities. It came as no surprise when these charity representatives would return in short order for more help in other “fund raising” endeavours. What did shock the hell out of me was that they would return 6 months later in a brand new Mercedes Benz.

After a while the penny dropped. These weren’t bad people. When these people started out, they did it with the best intentions. They wanted to make the world a better place and once they put their considerable talents to use and they found that they were really good at raising money.

After a while they all have the same thought “If it wasn’t for me, the charity would not get this money, therefore I deserve my commission”. What starts out as a part time labour of love turns into a full time job. Like the rest of us, the charity worker needs his job and the quickest way to the unemployment queue would be to solve the problem that you identified in the first place.

Recently, the UK based charity Oxfam, released a damning report on South Africa.  We all know that South Africa is not perfect, but this report seemed to be so out of step with our lived reality. Why would they do it? Well Oxfam is in the misery business, and the idea of a self-sufficient, confident and successful African country terrifies them and closes a key target market.

Once a charity becomes the way you earn your living or your fame, all bets are off. Just think about it, the last thing Bob Geldof needs is prosperity in Africa. How will he make money or maintain his profile without the image of him holding a poor, starving, disease-ridden African?

Just to illustrate to what depths Geldof is prepared to sink have you heard the dreadful remake of the 30 year old wallet-snatcher: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” The original dirge put the washed-up wannabe rock-star Geldof on the do-gooder map. If you want to puke, just watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIbdFSS1FNQ

Back in 1984, he urged the world to buy his records so that he could send food to Ethiopia. That this action caused a larger humanitarian crisis as the Ethiopian population surged beyond the levels that local agriculture could sustain, causing more starvation than before, never seemed to trouble St Bob.

He was knighted by the queen and was the talk of the town, sharing stages around the world with the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Kings, Queens and Presidents, in every first world country but never in Africa.

His cause de jour is Ebola, despite the fact that this “epidemic” has only claimed 5000 lives, but hey one of them was an American. More people get shot in this country each month, but nobody is making music about that. He is also not going to hold a concert to stop drone strikes in Pakistan.

Ebola also fits another very important Geldof and Bono criteria; it happened in Africa, where the locals can’t be trusted to help themselves. His real motivation that nobody has invited him to be on the Graham Norton Show in a while, so any cause will do.

If we really wanted to help poor people, we would give them quality education and campaign to have international corporations be headquartered in an African country of their choice. Make the directors of those companies live in that country with their wives and children, attend local schools and pay their taxes there as well. We will all be amazed  at how quickly attitudes would change.


Comment: (1)

Julian Gordon

January 14, 2015 | Reply

Thank you for this. I agree with you, especially as regarding Africa, and it’s low self esteem perpetuated by European chauvinism. I encountered this misrepresentation of charity a number of years ago when reading a critique of the USAID program.

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