Belfast Telegraph

Couple tried to give house proceeds to Band Aid relief effort, Geldof recalls

Bob Geldof donated the archive to the National Library of Ireland in Dublin
Bob Geldof donated the archive to the National Library of Ireland in Dublin

A young married couple from Scotland sold their house and tried to give the proceeds to the Band Aid famine relief effort, Bob Geldof said.

Old women donated their wedding rings as part of an unprecedented outpouring of Western support for millions starving in Ethiopia in 1984 and 1985, the musician and songwriter said.

The Crown Prince of Kuwait gifted £1 million during Live Aid concerts in the UK and US while 95% of those with television sets tuned in.

Geldof is giving the Irish state a Band Aid archive of hundreds of letters, artwork, poetry and musical recordings after it was accumulated in a warehouse in London.

Much of it will be digitalised and put on display for the world to see at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.

Geldof said: "Eight miles south of the richest continent in the world, eight miles, that is all the gap there is between Europe and Africa, eight miles between the richest continent and the poorest, there were 30 million people dying of want in a world of surplus.

"That isn't only intellectually absurd, it is economically illiterate and it is, of course, morally repulsive."

The Boomtown Rats front man and co-writer Midge Ure's first version of Do They Know It's Christmas? raised £8 million for famine relief in Ethiopia.

They gathered a group of musicians together in 1984 for the charity single. It featured Geldof's fellow Irishman Bono, George Michael, Duran Duran and Bananarama, among others.

It helped inspire Live Aid concerts in London and Philadelphia, which raised millions more.

The archive will be transported from London, where it had been in storage, to Dublin. It will be catalogued, preserved, selectively digitalised and exhibited.

Geldof said: "This then is our thanks and gratitude to Ireland and the Irish.

"We want you to use this gift for the benefit of those in whose name we too will continue to work."

Organisers felt unable to take the money from the couple who sold their house, Geldof said.

But many others gave £100 and the archive reveals the enormous level of organisation behind Band Aid.

The trove of documents, many on fading fax paper, captures the work of those who looked after fleets of ships and trucks which distributed relief.

It was the era of strikes in Britain but many workers suspended their industrial action to help, Geldof said.

Revealing letters from public figures will be among those disclosed as well as reports on projects helped in Africa since 1985.

Despite his desire to help, Mr Geldof said he knew the Boomtown Rats were not having hits.

His collaboration with other artists on Band Aid helped him get his confidence back, saying: "This required something of the self.

"It was not enough that you simply allowed 30 million sentient human beings to die of want in this bizarre world of surplus."

He said it was a "bizarre" social phenomenon linked to the dawn of globalised media and the celebrity status of pop.

Mr Geldof added: "We agreed on a common proposition that extreme poverty was useless and eradicable and it can be done very easily and it was not in our interests to maintain this, as we see in the Mediterranean right this second as more people drown."


From Belfast Telegraph