Talking of Africa

22 May 2006
Bono's six-nation trip through Africa is getting global media attention. Here's some press highlights and latest blogging updates.

Kamal Ahmed of The Observer in the UK has spent several days on the road with Teams RED, DATA and ONE and his story yesterday featured Bono responding to critics of the Product RED initiative.

'The plane to Kigali, Rwanda. We sit down in the front row. Bono asks for a bottle of wine and some cheese. He tells funny stories about the first time he met Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch. He wants to talk about why he does what he does.

'It is a great skill that Africa has, the skill of commerce. There is something about the dignity of labour, in coming off the nipple of aid, and Africa has it, whether it's hustling on street corners or running a big business. We want to give them the dignity of doing business with them. To treat them as supplicant is offensive. They cringe at the way they are portrayed.'

But companies are motivated, the critics say, by wanting to look good. 'It's irrelevant what their motives are. It is not about what my motives are, either. It could be the halo effect, it could be something else. What we have to measure is whether people's lives are being drastically improved or not by these interventions.'

He says people should grow up, leave the agitprop behind. If getting anti-retrovirals means working with business, then work with business. He describes the new movement of glamour-giving as 'hip hop', not afraid of commerce, not afraid of making money. 'We used to be into indie music, all long coats and worrying and wagging our fingers at everyone. But hip hop is now.'

He could just be a rock star, of course. Why isn't he? He pauses. 'I could see a way through some of these issues and I would have felt culpable if I hadn't done what I could see needed doing. Love thy neighbour is a command, not a piece of advice.'

Read the whole story here

In TANZANIA on Saturday the delegation visited a family-owned factory which makes nets which repel mosquitoes, the insect which transmits malaria - Africa's biggest killer. The aim of eradicating malaria in the next decade, said Bono, was as thrilling as watching Neil Armstrong take the first walk on the moon. "It's about as exciting a reason to get out of bed in the morning as I have ever heard. That is changing the world,"

More at The Washington Post here

In NIGERIA yesterday, a warning that the recent promises by wealthy countries toward Africa could dissipate unless the continent tackles corruption. "There is a window of opportunity but it could close if things like the corruption issue are not tackled .... the single biggest obstacle to business and the renewal of the economies in the south is corruption and the single biggest obstacle to getting start-up money for those businesses, if you want to look at aid as investment, is corruption."

Read more from the Reuters correspondent here

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, AMERICANS can catch up with the trip live when NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams goes live to Bono in Ghana. More here

Latest blog updates from RED here and from here

More on the political campaign to fight poverty in the poorest countries here.


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