Bono: On a Mission


By Irish America Staff
April / May 2002

U2’s lead singer, Bono, has been a famous rock star for over two decades. His social activism dates back almost as long — to 1984 when he appeared on Band Aid’s “Do they know it’s Christmas?” — a charity record to raise money for famine-stricken Ethiopia. The following year, U2 also performed at London’s Wembley Stadium at the Live Aid concert for Africa. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, he became more socially aware and started to carve out a reputation as a serious political commentator, speaking out frequently, if occasionally naively, on political, economic and ecological issues. In 1999, Bono joined Jubilee 2000, which has since changed its name to “Drop the Debt.” Since 1999, the group has campaigned to get the U.S. and other wealthy countries to drop the debts of 52 of the world’s poorest countries, most of which are in Africa. Bono’s success in raising the profile of this issue is due to the illustrious list of contacts that he has accumulated in over 20 years in show business. People who know Bono refer to his charismatic influence which allows him to gain access to such world power players as Bill Clinton, the Pope and Kofi Annan.

At the recent World Economic Foram in New York, he discussed with Bill Gates how to save Africa’s poorest countries. On Superbowl Sunday, U2 performed during the half-time break against a backdrop showing the names of New York City police and firemen as well as the victims on board the four hijacked aircraft who perished on September 11. Shortly after September 11, he organized, with Jermaine Dupri, an all-star recording of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” Proceeds had originally been intended to benefit AIDS relief organizations but after September 11, it was decided to split the money between the AIDS charities and the United Way’s September 11 Fund.

Bono lives with his wife Ali and four children in Dublin. ♦

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