Sunday, May 28, 2006
Part-time Irish Rock Star Learns Piano
Speaking of Irish singers and Bamoko, there's a podcast interview by Larry Elliott, the Guardian's economics editor, with Mr Bono over in Mali at the moment.
Following last year's Live 8, Bono is checking on, not just the donations from the North, but what the recipient countries in the South are doing with it. He's been getting around on this trip and is largely impressed:
Lesotho - the Mountain Kingdom is a beautiful country that fails to market itself. Yes, don't give a man a fish, give him a fishing rod, but then let him sell you the fish, and teach him to market his fish to you.
Rwanda - blew his mind, not in the way that Beckett did, but because Kigali is a spotless city where people excercise a civic duty to clean their streets. And 995 of the electorate voted. Bono met a Boston entrepreneur who is installing broadband all over the country, which means it will have better coverage than Ireland I imagine.
Tanzania - magical, magical landscapes with an ancient people moving towards a modern era albeit slower than Rwanda. Tanzania makes cotton but would like to be a nation of apparel makers. 1.6 million people are now going to school because of the first round of debt cancellation.
Mali - is also a cotton grower but desperately poor so what hope? Sharp intake of breath because 85% can't read, and very few go to school. Some breaks are happening but not quick enough. 300,000 are working in cotton which affects 3 million, but the country is overwhelmed by fluctuations in the world market which is flooded by American heavily-subsidized cotton. Bono believes the future for Mali is in its relationship with its neighbours.
Nigeria - I.T., along with textiles is the other great industry for the future of Africa. Bono's group brought people from Motorola who want to build, not assemble, build phones in Nigeria. Textiles and Technology are important because they point to the success of India and China
Bono reckons product (RED) will never replace the movement, because it is activism that will change the structural aspect of why 6,500 Africans die every day of a treatable disease.
But what of U2 and music?
Hello, my name is Bono, and I'm a rockstar is how he introduces himself to African kids. For kicks mostly. In reality Bono says he's a part-time rock star, but full-time musician and writer.
Like his teenage days when he worked on a garage (gas station) forecourt filling cars with petrol but dreaming of Saturday and rehearsals with the band, now his activism has him valuing his involvement in music more than ever. Music defines Mr Bono. He is part of the family that houses The Clash and Marvin Gaye.
His daughter's piano teacher has been giving Bono lessons and every lesson he writes a new song. Says he has quite a few, and the lads should be meeting up for the U2 thing they do sometime in June or July.
It's quite a nice interview, so it is.
• U2, A Tribute 2U Fran
• Bono Guest Edits (RED) Independent
• Voxer & Christie: A Love Story