It has been 33 years since Bob Geldof and Midge Ure wrote Do They Know It's Christmas? and recorded it with all the huge pop stars of the day under the name Band Aid to raise money to end poverty in famine-stricken Ethiopia.

Since then, the song has been re-recorded three times - in 1989, 2004 and 2014 - with different musicians. The most recent version was to fund the fight against Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The song has become almost sacrosanct. But this year, a number of listeners have gone on Twitter to point out what they regard as problematic lyrics in the song.

The song has been accused of promoting a "white saviour" complex, which sees white people "rescuing" people of colour from their plight, sometimes for self-serving reasons.

Black actress Kelechi Okafor was one of the first to complain.

"That song perpetuates an inaccurate and incomplete image of Africa and [is] thus racism and shouldn't be played on the radio," she said.

The question in the song's title has been mocked because Christianity is well-established in Ethiopia, the original beneficiary of the song's profits. The religion was introduced to Ethiopia in the 4th century.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is followed by 40% of the country's population. The country also has strong traditions of Protestantism and Catholicism.

The line "There won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time" seems to ignore the fact that mountains and areas of high elevation in Africa regularly become blanketed in the white stuff.

The next line, "No rain or rivers flow", appears to forget that northwest Africa is home to the Nile, one of the longest rivers in the world.

Others on Twitter have, however, pointed out that there was indeed little water flowing in Ethiopia at the time the song was written as it was gripped by a drought which resulted in famine and more than 400,000 deaths.

There has long been criticism of the line "Tonight, thank God, it's them instead of you", an ironic statement that on the surface appears selfish and cruel. Even Bono has repeatedly said he hates singing it.

In Band Aid 30 in 2014, the U2 frontman changed the lyrics to "Tonight we're reaching out and touching you". But Okafor said that that line alone "sums up white privilege".

In the Independent's review of Band Aid 30 in 2014, Christopher Hooton mourned the loss of the lyric. He said: "Though often misread as callous and selfish and 'loathed' by Bono himself, it repeats a stance that the West too often takes when looking fearfully across the oceans at tragedies unfolding abroad."

Fuse ODG appalled over Band Aid 30
Rapper Fuse ODG turned down a Geldof invitation to join Band Aid singers Getty

African musicians shared their mistrust of the song's lyrics when Band Aid 30 was recorded. Fuse ODG turned down a request from Geldof to feature in the recording and called the lyrics "appalling".

He said: "I was shocked and appalled by their content. The message of the Band Aid 30 song absolutely did not reflect what Africa is truly about and I started to question whether this was something I wanted to be a part of.

"I pointed out to Geldof the lyrics I did not agree with, such as the lines 'Where a kiss of love can kill you and there's death in every tear', and 'There is no peace and joy in West Africa this Christmas'. For the past four years I have gone to Ghana at Christmas for the sole purpose of peace and joy. So for me to sing these lyrics would simply be a lie."

Kenyan security policy analyst Abdullahi Halakhe described the tone of the lyrics as "grotesque" and dripping with the "White Man's Burden".

"The idea that Africa needs to be saved in 2014 by washed-up C-list pop artists is a perverse example of a messiah complex," he said.

Geldof previously replied to critics of the lyrics, telling them to f**k off. He told the Telegraph in 2014: "Please. It's a pop song. Relax."