03 December 2002
'It was 25 years ago I joined U2'
Bono was the guest on an hour-long Larry King Live special to mark World AIDS
Day at the weekend.
And almost in passing, he mentioned a U2 landmark had just been reached: 'It was
November actually, 25 years ago, I joined U2.'
Bono was taking part in the TV special to spotlight to the American public the
growing HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.
Along with the actress Ashley Judd and a group of African AIDS activists, he discussed
the week long tour he is embarked on through the 'Heart of America'.
'We're going with lots of other folks into the heart of America - into the places
where politicians don't expect you to go.'
He said the politicians were mistaken if they thought ordinary Americans were
too self-interested to believe that AIDS was an issue that should concern them.
'We think they're wrong, and we're going to listen to what people have to say
about this problem.
'I want to know what Americans think about what's happening in the rest of the
world. This is the biggest pandemic facing the human race since the bubonic plague
took a third of Europe.'
King asked him to recall the roots of his own political radicalism and Bono explained
how his first trip to Africa in the mid-1980's had been instrumental.
'I remember after Live Aid, I got kind of caught up in Live Aid, and it was Bob
Geldof, an Irish guy, that kicked the "We are the World," "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
thing. And my wife and I went out to Africa for a month because we could afford
to take the time.
'And kind of my life changed really there, and I saw things that you shouldn't
ever see in your life. And we stayed in the north of Ethiopia. I used to get up
in the mornings. We slept in a tent. And as the mist would lift over the hills,
you would see tens of thousands of people who had been walking all night to get
food. They were coming to this camp.'
Seventeen years on and little has changed for Africa - in fact the HIV/AIDS pandemic
is making things far worse.
'Two-and-a-half million Africans are going to die next year for the stupidest
of reasons, because it's difficult to get the AIDS drugs to them. Well, it's not
difficult to get fizzy drinks to the furthest reaches of Africa. We can get cold,
fizzy drinks. Surely, we can get the drugs. This is America. We can do anything
here. You've got a guy on the moon. You know what I mean?'
Bono also talks at length about his trip with US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill
to Africa earlier this year and the reason that giving more to help the poorest
countries in Africa should now be seen in a new way.
'We should start talking about it as an investment now. Investment in the future.
Help is a good word. And I know if Americans understand that their money is going
to be spent well, they are ready to step up to the plate.'
Complete version of this extended and revealing interview with Bono here
More on the Heart of America Tour here