By Hama Tuma
“Bod Geldof is a humanitarian activist. He is also an egotist, a celebrity economist, and quite wrong on Africa”. So wrote, politely, Mr.Greg Mills in the Guardian of March 8/2013. Bob Geldof is a also a businessman who has much profited from the aid business or from what some call the business of hunger.
Those who remembered the Live Aid concert to help the victims of famine in Ethiopia cannot forget the paternalist, if not racist, song called “Do they know it is Christmas?”,The song has reared its head again ostensibly to aid victims of Ebola in West Africa and many Africans there are not amused at all. This time again the infamous song (which even Geldof himself had termed horrible in the past) has been sung for Ebola victims and widely condemned as a symbol of ignorance, cringe worthy, demeaning and racist to boot. During the 1984 famine, Geldof, an almost washed out singer of the C list Boomtown Rats, rose to prominence through Live Aid, was knighted in Britain and used the aid money and trucks to finance and arm the now in power repressive Tigrean front in Ethiopia. Geldof vehemently denies this but much evidence is present to prove that he was not duped by the street smart and now dead Meles Zenawi. War on Want, which stole more than a million pounds of aid money, did not hide the fact it was directly helping the front and not the famine victims. Numerous NGOs helped the Tigrean front under the cover of aid for the famine victims to use the situation to bring down the pro soviet regime in Addis Abeba.
Geldof, who wanted to preach to Ethiopians on what is known as Christmas, forgot then that Ethiopians were Christians long before his ancestors. With the Live Aid fame, he was also able to join the Bono fellow to self appoint themselves as the mouth pieces of Africa. A pretension that got them next to cruel dictators and other world leaders. Geldof was a fan of the Tigrean dictator in Addis Abeba and has recently gone on record to praise the war monger and corrupt Tony Blair who had embraced Meles Zenawi. Actually, Geldof, like his friend called Bono, has failed to realize the economic problems of Africa and their causes. Not drought but bankrupt agricultural policies, not humanitarian aid to sustain development but real investment and democratic rights in the countries. Geldof was recently in Ethiopia to watch over his wine business together with a Tigrean (the ethnic group of the ruling front) millionaire who declares publicly and without shame that the people need food and security first and not democracy. The much touted economic double digit growth is obviously fiction in the light of the reality of mass impoverishment which even the World Bank (often an apologist of the tyrannies) has admitted a few months back. A few Tigrean elites and front leaders control the economy and have embezzled the nation’s wealth and enjoyed the support of the likes of Blair and Washington because they have accepted the western diktat and invaded Somalia and given a drone base to America in Arba Minch, Southern Ethiopia. This is the regime that Geldof admires and with whom it is doing business on a big scale.
Massive donor aid from Britain and the USA has sustained the repressive regime and with the added help of China the regime has been able to stifle dissent. Journalist are persecuted, bloggers in jail, opposition web sites and radios blocked and jammed, extra judicial executions systematic. The regime in Addis Abeba is one of the top predators of the free press, practices routine torture and holds close to 40,000 political prisoners all over the country in known and secret prisons. It has enabled foreigners (Indian, Chinese, Arabs mainly) to engages in a gigantic land grab which has led to the dislocation and forced resettlement of hundreds of thousands. If construction of buildings and villas is a sign of development it must be said that the routine power failure in the cities and the lack of adequate drinking water has made the so called buildings and condominiums unlivable. More than half a million street dwellers or homeless people contrast with the indecent opulence of the ruling clique. It is to this type of country that Geldof often travels for profitable business and to praise the dictators to the skies. His friend, the late Meles Zenawi, shrieked that economic progress and democracy are not necessarily joined, that China and South Korea under Park developed while being politically repressive. However, the so called Chinese model is flawed and Ethiopia is not China to begin with. This same conception has been forwarded to portray the Kagame regime in Rwanda as developmental. However, recent reports by an economic expert who defected has revealed that Kagame had ordered him to doctor the economic statistics to present impressive development. 10 million people in need of food aid, a population that can ill afford to eat three times a day, 50% youth unemployment, average 28% inflation, and many more factual and real statistics indicate that the great leap forward by the regime in Addis Abeba is pure fiction. The deception is entertained by Geldof and co, and the West, to sustain a treacherous and repressive regime. America and Britain back the savage regime in Saudi Arabia and they have not found it onerous to back the regime in Ethiopia. Geldof finds himself in the middle of this.
In the Awash winery, Bob Geldof holds a substantial share and he persuaded a wine expert called Phillip Pritchard to come to Ethiopia to give expert advice. Awash bottles seven million liters annually and is mainly owned by a Tigrean millionaire working tightly with the tyrannical ruling elite. As one newspaper wrote : Geldof owns a private equity he chairs, 8 Miles, which owns Blue Nile, a company which acquired the 70 year old winery (producing Gouder wine) based in Addis Abeba and a vine yard near the town of Ziway” from the privatization agency.. Recently, in Addis Abeba, Geldof dined at the famous Castelli restaurant with the notorious officials and hirelings of the regime (Dawit Zewde, Sebhat Nega, Elleni Gebre Medhin) and waxed lyrical on his business activities. Geldof has used the aid business to profit personally just as the man he admires, Tony Blair, has become a distasteful example of using one’s government post for personal profit and corruption. Geldof hobnobs with ethic chauvinist dictators in Ethiopia and Blair is a consultant of notoriously anti democratic tyrants ranging from Saudi Arabia to Kazakhstan.
Does Geldof know he is exposed and finished? Not yet, and he continues to peddle his ignorant “Do they know it is Christmas?” song without shame. He has allied with the Tigrean regime in Ethiopia to exploit right less workers and the country as a whole. From a self proclaimed humanitarian to a merciless business partner of the enemies of Ethiopia– the voyage did not take that many years. And that Bono fellow? Read the following:
‘As his career continues to free fall into total irrelevance, pop star “Bono” of the rock group U2 has announced his support for a U.S.-backed plan to rape and pillage Africa by stealing its land and agricultural systems and replacing them with corporate-owned GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) and chemicals.
At the recent G8 Summit held at Camp David in Maryland, the Obama regime met with private industry leaders to announce the launch of the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition,” a thinly-veiled Green Revolution 2.0 that aims to uproot autonomous family farming systems throughout Africa and replace them with toxic monoculture systems controlled by multinational corporations like Monsanto.’
The charity business is well and alive. The business of aid and hunger is benefiting the lords of poverty. Geldof, who had boasted he has helped British business in Africa, maybe knighted by the Queen but he is considered by Africans as a front man for neocolonial plunder of Africa.