When not charming fans, U2 singer unfurled priceless plans to alleviate Africa’s poverty and AIDS pandemic
You can’t help feel sorry for Bono. Not too long ago, he used to speak out against corrupt politicians. But now he’s more pragmatic because there’s too much at stake.
At the Music Hall in Fair Park on Cinco de Mayo, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison introduced the rock star to a sold-out crowd. And like a nondenominational missionary, Bono spread a gospel about ways we can help alleviate Africa’s suffering. He’s a gifted and impassioned speaker with a lot to say.
A big part of Bono’s cache is his fame as a musician. And he’s trying to convert his U2 fan base into globally conscious advocates. He does a good job, but it’s tough work using his effortless Irish charm remembering U2′s first Dallas gig (in 1981 at the defunct Bijou club in front of a crowd of 30 who paid the $1 cover to see a wet T-shirt contest). At his Dallas lecture, so much time was squandered because overzealous fans felt the need to constantly interrupt his speech with applause.
Music led him to Africa. After working on Live Aid, Band Aid and the We Are the World project, Bono spent a month at an Ethiopian orphanage. On the day of his departure, a father tried to give his newborn to Bono because the child was sure to die. Bono couldn’t rescue the infant, but that moment installed his calling.
“Africa is bursting into flames,” he said. “6,500 Africans die of AIDS every day.”
Bono has President Bush’s ear and the Bush administration has tripled financial aid to Africa. Bono says he’s also trying to make Bush understand that poverty breeds despair, and despair breeds violence. If we don’t help Africa, the continent is sure to be a breeding ground for terrorism.
“Paint the antiviral drugs red, white and blue,” Bono remembered telling Bush.
Bono could have spoken for hours invigorating our American pride and explaining how U.S. citizens can help save the planet. Unfortunately, the event came to a crashing halt only after 40 minutes at the podium.
Bono recently launched the One campaign, an on-line political action committee to help fight AIDS, poverty and extreme starvation.
Daniel A. Kusner
For information, visit www.one.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 12, 2006.