Chumbawamba – Pictures Of Starving Children Sell Records (1986)

STARVATION, CHARITY
AND ROCK & ROLL

PREFACE

Whilst we parade pictures of undernourished black children, we set the limits on our understanding of starvation. We hold the picture up high for all to see. We say, “this is reality”. In our minds Africa and the rest of the Third World becomes as big as this picture… and invariably the words beneath the picture say only “Give Generously” or “They Need Your Help.” Never “This is what we are doing, with our insatiable taste for luxuries”. Never “This is what we have done with our tradition of slavery, genocide and exploitation.” Worst of all, that picture, and the myths which surround it, never prompt us to ask why…
We exchange this picture, this symbol of helplessness, for our own helplessness. Someone passes a plate around and we put in our loose change. At the same time as feeling compassionate, we feel guilty – and yet we never dare to admit that the picture also symbolises our ignorance, our decadence. We feel shocked, and want rid of the picture; a few pennies buys us the quickest escape route, as we carry on eating ourselves to death from the same plate.
The picture of the starving child is real, but only if we detach it from the lies which usually surround it. It is real when we discover that it is the organised viciousness of the capitalist system, and our part within it, which causes famine. Getting rid of the picture means replacing guilt with action and solidarity. It means overthrowing the entire economic political order. Until then, starving children will continue to sell the notion of a caring, sharing West.

“It is a common myth within capitalist thought that the individual through drive and hard work can become a capitalist. In the USA, it is usual to refer to an individual like John D Rockefeller as someone who rose ‘from rags to riches’. To complete the moral of the Rockefeller success story, it would be necessary to fill in the details on all the millions of people who had to be exploited to become a multi-millionaire. The acquisition of wealth is not due to hard work alone, or the Africans working as slaves in America and the West Indies would have been the wealthiest group in the world.”
Walter Rodney

PROLOGUE

“I’m the Boss of the company
And I’ve got hunger working for me
Listen and you’ll begin to understand-
I built my profits on stolen land
It’s the economics of supply and demand;
And I make the demands around here.”

I. HOW TO GET YOUR BAND ON TELEVISION

“A large number of opportunities for unknown bands are to be found on regional magazine programmes produced by the ITV companies. The emphasis in these programmes is not so much on music as on news, so a band that can provide the producer with a good news item relating to themselves has a far greater chance of getting on the show. Publicity stunts involving fund-raising activities for charity can often work wonders.”
from “International Musician”

Product sells, people die
Same manipulation wrapped in lies
Give a little money and play your rock n roll
The biggest prizes to the biggest tools

“Live Aid made compassion a hit”
Bob Geldof

In keeping with the fashion for charity, not change
Here’s out contribution: we’ve called it Slag Aid
For every pop star that we slag off today
A million pounds will be given away!

Paul McCartney – Come On Down!
With crocodile tears to irrigate this ground
Make of Ethiopia a fertile paradise
Where everyone sings Beatles songs & buys shares in EMI

Freddie Mercury – This is your life!
Thank the Lord that you were born white
And thank apartheid for this wonderful oportunity
To peddle your hypocrisy in Sun City

David Bowie – The Price Is Right!
A suitful of compassion and a gobful of shite
Still the voices of those who doubt
Coca-Cola for the peasants to end this drought

Jagger and Richards – Game For A Laugh!
Dancing us down the garden path
To a place where money grows on trees
Where cocaine habits are financed by hunger & disease

(Ask the puppet-masters who pull the strings
“Who makes the money when the puppets sing?”
Ask the corporations “Where does the money go?”
Ask the empty bellied children “What are we singing for?”)

And Cliff Richard – 3,2,1!
The God who remains when the religion’s gone
Cliff, we’ve got a special surprise for you today
So come closer, step this way

Cliff you’re such an example of moral worth
Such a purist saint come to bless our earth
That on behalf of our viewers watching today
And on behalf of the millions with empty bellies
We’re donating something special that we’re all going to like:
Cliff Richard, we’re going to nail you up too cross tonight!!

…Ladies and Gentlemen, just imagine it – Someone comes along, takes everything you own, your space, your house; separates you from your family: and then hits you in the face if you say anything different. Well, that’s what we’ve been doing to the Third World for the past 400 years. That’s YOU and ME. You and the viewers at home, me in the studio, the pop stars, everyone. That’s how we make the Third World, today and every day. If you want any correspondence with the programme, just send your answers – LETTER BOMBS ONLY! – to:
BP House
Victoria Street
London SW1

Thank you and goodnight!
Feed theWorld: Starve the Rich – Goodnight!

“Live Aid, Band Aid and Sport Aid raised £80 million worldwide: half of Michael Jackson’s personal amassed fortune of 200 million dollars. Or about the same as the world spends on arms every 2 hours 40 minutes.”

I know there must be more
Than giving just a little bit more
When half of this world is so helplessly poor
Starved of a real solution –
Only charity and tradition
And the cycle of hungry children
Will keep on going round…

“The Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell continues to supply the South African regime with oil. South Africa has no oil supplies of its own. Thousands of police vehicles, aeroplanes, tanks and water cannon are 100 per cent reliant on imported oil. Oil is also necessary to produce the tear gas, nerve gas and napalm used on South African workers.
On the night of May 11-12 1986, four days before their annual shareholders meeting, Shell filling stations across Holland were attacked. Two groups ‘Nightshade’ and ‘Ever More Night Shade’ were involved (in Dutch the word for shade also means damage).
Ever More Nightshade burnt down a filling station near Wezep to take “some of the power back…to show Shell a fraction of the violence with which they daily confront the population of South Africa.”
Nightshade cut through petrol hoses, destroyed pumps, glued up automatic pay machines, put sand and sugar in petrol reservoirs and painted anti-apartheid slogans. Nightshade left a warning: “If these actions achieve nothing we will not hesitate to take more, further-reaching steps against Shell.”
from Counter Information

…will keep on going round
Until we burn the House of Commons to the ground

“When the missionaries first came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray”; we closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Desmond Tutu

II. BRITISH COLONIALISM AND THE BBC

Flickering Pictures Hypnotise

“I’m the Boss of the BBC
I’m the monkey at the top of the media tree…”

Bulletin:
“Your version of the riots in Cape Town
Comes second-hand from me
Chewing and spewing this revolution
For popular TV
All your opinions are carefully chosen
By what we’ll let you see
Televised crap dressed up as fact –
your soap reality
We only want a chance to show the Editor’s side
Of struggle in the news
Closer & closer to the state’s eye view
And further from the truth
Push a microphone to the mouth of this youth
Bewildered and confused
Misreported, distorted, misquoted
A ready-made victim to be used
And we’ll quote you on things that you never said
Put this pencil to your head
And kill your revolution dead…”

TV tells us what to be and what to say and what to do
How to act and how to lie but never question why?

Fighting to stop this mass-deception
Fighting to scrap the pass-laws
Fighting to end misuse of land
Fighting to close down diamond mines
Fighting to feed their hungry mouths
Fighting to change the world
…here, we sit on the fence
Built by distance and enforced by lies,
Is a full stomach all it takes
To keep us pacified?

“When I was fifteen years old I was brought to the courthouse, put up on the auction block to be sold. Old Judge Miller was there. I knew him well because he was one of the wealthiest slave owners in the county and tho meanest one. He was so cruel all the slaves and many owners hated him because of it. He saw me on the block for sale and he knew I was a good worker so when he bid for me I spoke right out on the auction block and told him: ‘Judge Miller! Don’t you bid for me, ’cause if you do, I would not live on your plantation. I will take a knife and cut my own throat from ear to ear before I would be owned by you.”
Delicia Patterson, ex-slave

…She lived to tell the tale.

III. COMMERCIAL BREAK

“The chief cash crop is coffee, grown on the plateaux in the southwest, providing around 60 per cent of the country’s total export earnings. Output in the 1984/85 harvest is expected to be some 20 per cent down on the previous season at 160,000 tonnes. Additionally, transport difficulties arising from the diversion of vehicles for drought relief are hindering exports.”
Report by Barclay’s Bank Oct 1985, on prospects for investment in Ethiopia.

“I’m the wife of the Boss of the company
And I always make my husband answer to me
With what he says about the blacks, I totally agree
The main problem is, they’re not civilised, you see
Look at the way they squabble between themselves
Rioting at funerals – they’ll surely go to hell
If you gave them nice houses, they’d only burn them down
(You don’t get that in a white man’s town).
And boycotting products won’t do them any good
You see they need the trade to help buy food
And when I visit my niece on her beautiful homestead
The blacks who work for her seem really quite content
So I’ll agree with my husband ‘Let things stay as they are’
That’s always been his motto, and we’ve gone far.

IV. UNILEVER

How to Succeed In Business

“Sales operations in the United States and management of the fourteen Unilever plants are directed from Lever House on New York’s fashionable Park Avenue. You look at this tall, striking, glass-and-steel structure and you wonder how many hours of unpaid black labour and how many thousands of tons of underpriced palm oil and peanuts and cocoa it cost to build it.”
W Altheus Hunton

When you don’t want to feed the world
When you just want to feed your bank balance
Wash your guilt away
UNILEVER WASHES WHITER!
Soap to clean those dirty hands
And a slap for the people who work the land
Unilever
Man-made hunger
Soap in our eyes
John West is the Best!
Old soap opera
No soap-reality
Legal slave trade
Domestos kills all known truths dead
Soap to wash the darkest stain
Profit covers up the pain
Of a slow, deliberate genocide
And all the dirt you want to hide
Take the black and wash it whiter
Brooke-Bond Oxo
Blue Band, Bird’s Eye
Lifebuoy, Sunsilk
Persil washes Whiter!
We make whitewash
We sell whitewash
Consume whitewash
Consumed by whitewash

Unilever, the biggest food and drinks company in the world, started life making soap. White man in Africa growing soap on Unilever’s plantations. Growing soap. Palms, palm kernels and groundnuts crushed along with the African people to make the oil, to make the soap-sanitized genocide which cleans as it whitewashes.
Crushed palm kernel by-products include animal feed-cake for factory farms, and glycerine; as in nitroglycerine – as in explosive weapons.
In England, at Unilever’s Colworth Research Laboratories in Bedford, white man in white coat stands over a white rabbit… soap gets in rabbits’ eyes.
In 1985 some people took direct action against Unilever at Colworth, uncovering some more of their dirty work and dismantling some of their instruments of torture. In 1986, twenty-five of those people were put in prison by Unilever with sentences totaling forty-five years.
Meanwhile, we’re supposed to wash our hands of the soap reality on which Unilever’s world stands: that is, the starvation, the vivisection, and the prison sentences.
No matter how many bars of soap they put in front of us, they’ll never hide the smell of profit = pain. No matter how many prison bars they put in front of us, there’ll always be people hitting back. And where better to start dismantling the whitewash than with our own hands?

Somewhere in this cycle there’s me and you
What are we prepared to do?

V. MORE WHITEWASHING

“‘Look here’s a village. I want you to see an African school. In 1900 there wasn’t a school in Uganda. Now more than a million African children go to school. Let’s stop and go up quietly and peep in at the window.’
As they got near the school they heard the busy noise of the classroom. They looked in and watched for a few minutes.
‘lt’s just the same as school at home,’ John whispered.”
from the Ladybird Book of Travel Adventure

Children in school forced to the desk
Finger the atlas, study the text
Laws and opinion presented as fact
Taught to accept, and never to ask

(Those smiling workers in Ladybird books
They’re not picking coffee at all
They’re busy with bricks and mortar
Building the company wall).

Flickering pictures hypnotise
We spend our lives watching others’ lives
Too much watching to realise
That this is a smokescreen,
And this is why people die

(Those smiling news presenters
They’re not reading cue-cards at all
They’re busy with brush and bucket
Whitewashing the company wall).

Set yourself up and play it again
Force the tears and entertain
Sing about a world of make-believe
Force this charity and leave

(Rich people who claim to know
What’s wrong with this world
Can’t know anything at all
They’re busy giving the orders
For us to build their second homes
And we who take the orders
And refuse to question it all
We’re busy with spade and bible
Burying the poor).

Most charity organisations use propaganda which best suits their generous, funding public. They are understandably scared of antagonising people by telling unpleasant truths – “What’s the point of having morally clean but financially empty hands?” Thus, most charities intentionally create three ideas about our role in Third World starvation: a) people in the rich countries are not responsible for poverty in the Third World, b) the developed countries are caring and generous towards the Third World, and c) poor people in the Third World are passive, doing nothing but waiting for us to help them. And so we carry on throwing bundles of money at the desert, creating ever more sand-storms. That way we won’t see what’s really going on.

Mass-manufactured and given away;
Blinkers to get you through your day
So you’ll never ever know to what extent you’re involved
Easily fooled, all your problems solved
You’ll say starvation has nothing to do with you
You saw it in print, so it must be true
And the documentary explained it all:
It’s a simple matter of birth control!
If you send a little money you can sleep tonight
Or starve in sympathy on a Limmits Diet
And you know that charity cures malnutrition
And hunger put the sparkle back in television

VI. …AN INTERLUDE: BEGINNING TO TAKE IT BACK

In tiny Nicaragua, a real challenge to poverty is being made. Since the overthrow of the Somoza government in 1979, health services, education, shelter and basic women’s and workers’ rights have reached the majority of people for the first time. The gains made by the Nicaraguan people are now threatened by the massive US campaign to destabilise and overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The US is campaigning to isolate Nicaragua by enforcing an economic blockade and by actively and financially supporting the ‘Contra’ guerrillas.
(Since this was written, a lot has changed in Nicaragua. For details on recent events and on the continuing solidarity with the Sandinistas, get in touch with the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, 23 Bevenden St, London N1 6BH)

Words to describe Nicaragua of old:
Cash crops and hunger and US control
Coffee and sugar on company land
Made to supply what the boss would demand

Then one July morning in ’79
Nicaragua decided to leave it behind…

And the people are learning to take back their lives
As the country will change, Sandinista survives

Women are winning what they’ve never known
The power to organise outside the home
Starting to find what is equal and fair
Ensuring that this revolution is shared

Regaining lost chances, demanding much more
Running the factories, fighting the war

And the people are learning to take back their lives
As the country will change Sandinista survives

Nobody claims that it’s over and done
There’s too much depends on enlistment and guns
And raising their children and filling their plates
And chasing the Contras to Washington State

The Yankee conspiracy thrown to the ground
That’s where the spirit of change can be found

And the people are learning to take back their lives
As the country will change Sandinista survives

“Following the victory of President Allende’s socialist government in Chile in 1970, a number of record companies left, while others were nationalised. EMI, however, avoided nationalisation and instead chose to operate as a capitalist company committed to releasing anti-capitalist music. But when in 1973 Allende’s government was replaced by a military dictatorship, EMI stopped releasing radical folk artists from which it had been making its profits. Instead it vetted its catalogue to ensure ‘ideological purity’ and dropped many of its traditional folk musicians. Under both regimes, EMI appeared to act as the dutiful servant of its political masters, without compromising its commitment to profit-making. The same applies in South Africa.”
John Street

VII. DUTIFUL SERVANTS AND POLITICAL MASTERS

Abolishing Slavery (and Reinventing it)

“The connections between slavery and capitalism in the growth of England is adequately documented by Eric Williams in his book ‘Capitalism and Slavery’. Williams gives a clear picture of the numerous benefits which England derived from trading and exploiting slaves, and he identified by name several of the personalities and capitalist firms who were the beneficiaries. Outstanding examples are provided in the persons of David and Alexander Barclay, who were engaging in slave trading in 1756 and who later used the loot to set up Barclay’s Bank. There was a similar progression in the case of Lloyds – from being a small coffee house to being one of the world’s largest banking and insurance houses, after dipping into profits from slave trade and slavery.”
Walter Rodney

Times Change – Bosses Don’t

Things were rather different in Great Grandfather’s day
He just put a chain around their ankles & made them work for no pay
He took everything they owned and yet still demanded more
He did a bloody good job in taming the poor

Now I’m rather more subtle, I say “I’ll tell you what I’ll do –
I’ll do everything I can to try and help you
And you’ll be helping me,” I say, “I’ll see that you’re alright
You can have a place of your own, you can even pretend to be white.
And you won’t have to worry, I’ll have a quiet word with your mates
Oh they’ll be alright, they’ll have enough on their plates
I’ll put a bit in their mouths; you just pull hard on the reins
They’ll do anything for you and they won’t complain…

You’ll be so much better off,” I say, “You can share my paradise
Just sign my piece of paper and I’ll organise your life.”
And it never fails, it does the trick, it works every time
So me and my dear wife and the family’s doing fine

Great Grandad got his Dukedom when slavery was abolished
Dear old dad became a Viscount when the Empire was finished
But times have changed (and for the better) with freedom of choice –
We’re a thousand times richer, QED His Master’s Voice.

What could be worse than to live under the fist of this white man, and pay him to oppress you? The answer is to live under the fist of a black man who is living under the fist of the white man; and such was, and still is, the story of African women.

“Woman has been the great unpaid labourer of the world.”
Susan B Anthony, 1840s

A dog stares into a gramophone trumpet, waits for its call to action
Mute and obedient; standing to attention
Look a little closer: the dog is a woman
She’s working under a system that she can’t understand
Trapped inside a world of labour and heat
So that she and her children will be able to eat
The trumpet is patriarchy, it’s old and fixed
Where poor men are lured by the desire to be rich
Where the limited power is still given to men
Where development aid is so wastefully spent
Where western education enforces this crap
Where women work in the open – yet live in a trap
There’s one solution, and this is it:
The dog leaps on the gramophone and has a shit.

“Me? I couldn’t do that. I’d never be one for role reversal. I just don’t enjoy the things that Paula does, like changing nappies. I did try it. Once. Then I looked at it and said, ‘No way!’. And so there was Paula, standing over me, wagging her finger and telling me I’m the father, share the load, but I just said, ‘Forget it. The End!’.”
Bob Geldof, Knight of the British Empire

VIII. COCA-COLANISATION

The rich world persuades the Third World, using advertising pressure, that their traditional foods are inferior. Established nutrition is swapped for quick commercial gain.

“Doctors working in rural Mexican villages report that a family may often sell its few eggs and chickens to buy Coke for the father while the children waste away for lack of protein.”
Geoffrey Yates

IX. …AND IN A NUTSHELL

“FoodAid is our most powerful weapon.”
Reagan Administration, 1982

And the company director spins the globe
Looks into on atlas of the world
A supermarket lifestyle for us all
A thousand nations under company control

Coca-Cola got machines in every land
No-one got the teeth to bite the hand
Stole their labour, their culture and their lives
To create a Coca-Cola paradise
Swallowing their soft drinks and their lives
Let’s take the blindfold from our eyes

From 1945 onwards, Britain’s role as the policeman/dictator of the colonialist world was handed over to the USA. The US was that arm of the capitalist system which had massacred the North American Indians, had benefitted most from the enslavement of Africans, and which exploited and threatened the Caribbean and Latin American nations. Britain became second-in-command.

“Throughout our history, Americans have always believed that freedom is the birthright of all peoples, and that we could not be true to our principles unless we stood for freedom and democracy not only for ourselves, but for others.”
From a History Book

Capitalism and Imperialism are dirty words. So our leaders and their advertising agencies fished around and stole a couple of words from here and there. Words like ‘Freedom’ and ‘Truth’… and thereon used them to describe every aspect of their unfree, dishonest government. The principles which the American state stands for have nothing to do with “freedom and democracy for others” – the US system and its European lap-dogs stand for the murder, oppression and exploitation of both its own citizens and people elsewhere.
Don’t forget it.

X. INVASION

The first world’s got greedy, we’re consuming it all
The Third World’s got hunger and military control
This unequal balance is a master plan
One gets rich from the other’s land

They’ve got it all worked out – and we give our consent

They’ve got it all worked out for Central America
They’ve got it all worked out for Africa (etc etc)
And in our naivety we believe myths and overconsume
And give them our consent
Dying in the shadow of the USA
“Let them eat bullshit, make the land pay”
Make a fast deal with the local elite
Then substitute cash-crops where once grew wheat
Build a cycle of dependence on a starvation-diet

With food as a weapon, workers stay quiet
And multinational nomes have blood on their brands
From taking an interest in misused lands
Del Monte, Tate & Lyle, Ralston Purina
Coca-Cola, RTZ, and Unilever
All packaging lifestyles for the glamorous west
Expand the company; exploit the rest

We are not isolated by distance
But by greed and our racist history
Just a wall’s-width away
Still impossible to reach across
This space in front of me

lt’s we who write this history
We who guard the money-tree
We support the companies
We stole the colonies

And when the system starts to crack
We’ll have to be ready to give it all back

“As agribusiness and multinational economics began to expand rapidly during this century, it became obvious that here was a means by which the rulers of the western industrialised states could satisfy many of the demands of the western workers. Africa, Asia and South America became the harvesters of an improved lifestyle for the First World’s Working Classes – and without the bosses having to dip into their own pockets.
Working class solidarity was bought out by the consumerist creed: “I’m alright Jack”. The no-strike agreement was signed by Boss and Union Bureaucrat sipping the same coffee and smoking the same cigarettes…”
Derek Dogg

See the space which lies between the rich and the poor
How the space increases as we keep on taking more
Keeping that space between us all
Is how the west can keep control…
With a mission and a chequebook promising aid
Posing for the camera the United Nations man came
He talked of control and the terrible drought
And the way that the west would bail them out
Then he stopped smiling and talked conditions
Of mutual aid; of American wishes
Sending in aid with sewn-on strings
lf they won’t buy arms – then it’s pulled back in
Feeding the world American style
Col Sanders has an empire behind his smile
Back up the investments with a military regime
Then cleverly say: “It’s to keep the world free!”
But the multinational myths are beginning to fall
The poor don’t want aid, they want control

And if we really want to see the Third World eat
We’ve got to see through the wrapping on the high street
Past barriers of culture that dictate our lives
We’re busy consuming as the other half dies
And the answer’s not a question of charity –
Not whilst profit’s still the top priority –
So let the glossy shop-fronts know what to expect
And you Bosses of Companies…
…and the cycle of hungry children
Will keep on going round
Until we burn the multinationals to the ground

“WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY TO HELP THE FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER”

“THE PROBLEM: 100 years after Africa was divided up by the European colonial powers, the continent is in a state of permanent crisis. 150 million people are facing massive and critical shortages of food medical supplies and health care, and water. These are the stark realities of the situation: Africa has the lowest incomes, slowest growth, least political stability, most severe environmental problems and lowest levels of literacy and life expectancy in the world. Added to this tragic formula is the drought which now affects one-third of the African people… Help is needed right now. We can help the African people to once again help themselves.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  1. Buy the single, album, video, and related merchandise… if you buy a sweatshirt or t-shirt wear it. Whatever the medium, the message remains the same: people need help.
  2. Make a donation
  3. Organize an event… host a party…

BY HELPING, YOU ARE PLAYING AN IMPORTANT PART IN THE FIGHT TO END AN ON-GOING TRAGEDY THAT AFFECTS US ALL – BECAUSE ‘WE ARE THE WORLD’.”

Above is an extract from the “We Are The World” charity campaign. It tells us about the problems facing Africa, and about how we can solve the problems. We believe that the assumptions it makes – about both problems and solutions – are wrong. That they are myths which have been created by the Corporations and Governments who make profit out of starvation. Rock musicians, blinded by guilt and the sparkle of their diamonds, have become ventriloquist dummies bouncing woodenly on the knees of multinational companies. Sports personalities and film & TV stars, too, have been quick to jump on the band-wagon. We don’t doubt their sincerity. We doubt their ability to question the myths about starvation and charity. And we the consumers swallow it all, convinced by an endless interchange of images: the emaciated, wide-eyed child in Africa and the plump generous popstar at Wembley.

The “colonisation” of Africa – and the rest of the Third World – was in reality a superpower carve-up, a dash to acquire as much land as possible. Multinationals took over land which grew food for the local population and began instead to harvest cash crops for the Western countries. Locals became slaves, forced to grow sugar, coffee, tobacco, tea. Crops that couldn’t feed themselves and their families. And we in our homes, sedated by consumer-culture, lapped up our improved lifestyle and tucked into our TV dinners. Now more than ever before, the hungry nations of this world export the wheat they need so badly, in order for us to fatten up cows so we can eat meat. Ethiopia grows tobacco for the West whilst its own people die of starvation. Alongside this image of waste, picture 60s drug casualties Dylan and Richards, doing their bit by sending back a tiny amount of what we’ve stolen…

Charity is like parking an ambulance at the foot of a notoriously dangerous cliff instead of erecting a fence at the top. Worse, the kind of glossy consumerism which has accompanied recent Aid events enforces and strengthens the very culture which keeps the Third World poor.

The companies who have sponsored such events – Pepsi-Cola, Thorn EMI, etc – are all directly involved in oppressing and suppressing the poor countries. They use cheap labour there and pay starvation wages. They use that labour to make luxury goods whilst children in those areas die of hunger. These companies sponsor Aid because they know it can never force change. Every time we offer charity we strengthen the Third World’s dependence upon us – look at the way the “We Are The World” statement stresses the need for us to “help”, we steal the wheatfield and then sent them a loaf of bread.
The best form of help is to give those countries and people space. Get the companies out, give them space to grow what they want and what they need. Give them space to make their own decisions. And stop pretending that flaunting our capitalist Rock & Roll and selling sweatshirts can change things.

Poverty and hunger are not ‘inevitable fads of life’. They are the result of an unjust system. That system needs to be changed; and we can start to overthrow it by changing our part within it. Inevitably, the people who are responsible for this genocide in Africa, South America, Asia etc are also running the countries we live in. If we really want to help the poor, we must begin to actively oppose the way our governments and companies operate. Supporting strikes, taking action, boycotting products: taking a stand. The massed stars of pop music, for all their sincerity and wealth, cannot feed the world. Together, we can.

Chumbawamba on this recording are:

Harry – Drums, Vocals, Bad guitar solo on ‘Slag Aid’
Alice Nutter – Vocals, Spoons, Kitchen Sink Melodrama
Boff – Guitar, Vocals, Clarinet, Fireblanket
Mavis Dillon – Bass Guitar, Trumpet, French horn, Vocals
Lou – Vocals, Guitar
Danbert Nobacon – Vocals, Half a jar of vegetable oil
Dunst – Whirrypipe, Turntables, Roto 613
with
Simon – Keyboards, Accordion, Voice
Neil Ferguson – Engineer
Derek Dogg – Bark, Muzzle and Chain

Recorded at Woodlands, Castleford
August 1986
Written and produced by Chumbawamba

Some interesting books about starvation & charity
Eat and Let Eat – a pamphlet by George Eisman
Food: Need, Greed and Myopia – Geoffrey Yates (Earthright Publications)
Poverty & Power – Rachel Heatley (Zed Press)
The Famine Business – Colin Tudge (Penguin)

and in more depth:
How The Other Half Dies – Susan George (Penguin)
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa – Walter Rodney (Bogle L’Ouverture)
World Hunger: Ten Myths – Lappe & Collins (Food First Publications)

Fighting for causes in other countries is often an excuse to avoid fighting the injustices in our own backyard. This recording dissociates itself from that idea.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s