Heart of America Diary and Photos. Entry Six

8 Jan 2003
Sixth in a series of diaries from Bono, written during the recent Heart of America tour to highlight the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.

DATA hit the road in December, with Bono, Ashley Judd, Chris Tucker, Wynonna Judd, AIDS activists and other experts getting the word out to Americans about the AIDS Emergency in Africa. Here's the sixth entry in Bono's diary.

December 8, 2002

This weekend the Heart of America tour is ending. I'm going to New York City Monday night for the premiere of Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. U2's music closes this extraordinary film and myself and Edge will do the red carpet along way from the green grass of this Appalachia...I'll miss the grass roots...

Last night, Wynonna Judd stepped in for sister Ashley in Louisville, she will do the same tomorrow in Nashville where we get to meet a bunch of inspirational musicians.

The Judd's are inspirational...when Wynonna speaks of her family's humble origins her vibrato has all the shades of grace and humour that mark the whole family...She sings from a special place, I don't know where exactly but its something to do with "home".

The colour of the grass here is a conservative blue. Not many years ago I thought conservative meant at best cautious, at worst selfish, the politics of special interests anti big government but pro big interference in peoples lives. I now discover that there are different "c's".

Conservatives, seeking security in the familiar. Religious conviction or libertarianism. Activists are turning up in the least expected places...

Archbishop Kelly is a wry man who wants to make his diocese go to work on the subject of Debt, AIDS, and Trade in Africa. These are three swords in the side of an already crucified continent.

So does the moderator of the Presbyterian Church who has handed over his office to facilitate myself and the Roman Catholic Archbishops meeting (this would not happen where I come from). He then introduced me to an annual gathering of Presbyterian moderators (100 of them) who let me bang their pulpit.

CNN are there...the luminous Daryn Kagan lit up by stalwart producer Ted Winner and a joy called Molly...CNN have been on three continents covering this story, behind Daryn's easy good humour is a serious curiosity in why things are the way they are...

They have set up CNN's worldwide broadcasting net at a Krispy Kreme donut and café shop in Louisville where we are interviewing locals...Chris Tucker is taking orders in the drive thru.

This giant of a man has been to Africa three times this year...once with myself and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, once with Secretary of State Colin Powell, and once with President Clinton who he can mimic so well that occasionally, in the question and answer section of the evening, we ask the first black president his opinion...He inspires me to quote the Koran to the Northeast Christian Church in Louisville: "he is close to God who make his friends laugh". He has become eloquent about the beauty and possibilities of Africa as well as the wanton waste of life that we are complicit in by our inaction.

As an African American discovering with affection and hurt his 'gene pool'...he can talk in a way I cannot: "I saw my face everywhere I went," he tells them. "My mother's face, my sister's face, my cousins, my nephews...these people are my blood...we have problems in our own neighborhood but not like this."

When more African Americans start to demand even the same level of media coverage for their continent that the Irish or Jewish Diaspora demand for their tiny nation states...things will start to happen, even in the 'neighbourhood' - wholeness.

Colin Powell is not on tour with us but he may as well be here, three quotes I've used everyday:

"The war against terror is bound up in the war against poverty"
"No war on earth is more destructive than the AIDS pandemic"
"AIDS poses a clear and present danger to the world"

As I close this diary and tour, the administration is preparing President Bush's trip to Africa. I hope they have heard from the Midwest that Americans here care about Africa's plight, interestingly they tell me caring about it makes them feel more American. The decency that lives here I am hopeful lives in the capital. The moral compass is now in the President's hand.

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