'Making Africa An Adventure'

16 Jun 2005
The Guardian newspaper spent all day Monday hanging out with U2 in Cologne.

Writer Madeleine Bunting wanted to know how campaigning against poverty in Africa sits with the life of a rock'n'roll star. It's a great read - we carry extracts below and a link to the whole piece.

Meantime looks like European fans are getting into the campaign now that the tour has reached the UK. At Manchester, for the first UK show on Tuesday, more than 12,000 people sent in a text to join the Make Poverty History movement. In the US more than 800,000 people have now joined the ONE Campaign

'Bono's ability to win people over to his mission for Africa is legendary. But how does he do it? And where does he think this fusion of celebrity and politics will lead? In his only newspaper interview, Madeleine Bunting spends a day with the U2 star to find out.'

*** 11.30am: It's 11.30 in a top floor suite in a five-star hotel in Cologne... Ahead lies a day of press interviews, a German television show, rehearsals and a late flight to Manchester. Wim Wenders, the German film-maker, comes by to give back a book which Bono had lent him. It's the Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski's classic on Africa, The Shadow of the Sun. Bono has managed to pull Wenders into taking a key role in Germany's equivalent of Make Poverty History.

*** 12.30pm: Finally, Bono emerges and he's walking stiffly. But the pain doesn't stop the campaign; we're in the lift and the talk is of last weekend's deal on debt. "The conditionality is critical," he says. "Is it the conditionality of we'll drop the debt if you drop your tariffs so we can flood your markets with cheap imports?"
Outside he goes over to the posse of fans. "That man said he was a venture capitalist from Beijing," says a delighted Bono as he gets in the car. "I said we're adventure capitalists."

*** 2pm: ... Bono's politicking is explicit, he's marketing not just his new album on this tour, but his campaign on Africa. It is the result of years of thinking about how to campaign, and how to use his skills as an entertainer to sell a cause.
"This is showbusiness; we're creating drama - this G8 is a one-off moment," he says."Years ago we were very conscious that in order to prevail on Africa, we would have to get better at dramatising the situation so that we could make Africa less of a burden and more of an adventure."

*** 8.30pm: A convoy takes the U2 entourage to the private plane at Cologne airport. "I'm a hyperactive kid," Bono declared in one interview earlier in the day, and as he settles into his seat and takes off his shades to begin his interview with the Guardian at 10pm after an airplane supper, one begins to see what he means. "I wish I didn't have to work this hard.
I'd prefer to be in a rehearsal room with the band and to spend some more time with my family," he says. But he likens his position to that of a footballer who seizes his chance, he has the ball and he has a clear view of the goal, so he shoots.

*** 11.30pm: What drives Bono's campaigning is the conviction that the problems of Africa can be solved. The deal he wants at the G8 on aid, trade justice and debt relief is start-up money so the continent can be turned round: "If we meet in 25 years and things are the same as they are now, I will be shocked as well as embarrassed and humiliated. I'm very hopeful of Africa's future - even on Aids which is a winnable war." He seems astonished that not everybody shares his conviction, but the plane has landed and he grimaces. The day is not yet over. There are calls to make to the US before bed to keep the US Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on track. Tomorrow he's on stage. But at least his back feels alright: the injections have worked.

Read the full article in The Guardian

Listen to Bono talking about Africa to The Guardian


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