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by Eija Rissanen, Student Life editor


On Sep. 25, 1976, a 14-year-old Larry Mullen Jr. posted a note on his high school bulletin board looking for musicians for a band. One of Bono’s friends saw the note and drove him there on his motorcycle. On that night, as seven boys practiced in Mullen’s kitchen, the idea of U2 was born. And soon the U2 we know today was formed: Mullen on drums, Adam Clayton on bass guitar, Bono on vocals, and The Edge on guitar. After more than 20 years, they are still performing in sold out venues.

Bono’s commitment to Africa started in 1984 when he and his wife, Ali, volunteered for six weeks in an Ethiopian refugee camp. Africa has been close to his heart ever since. He is one of the leading supporters of ways to end poverty – e.g. equal trade and debt forgiveness for Third World countries – and to reduce the number of AIDS cases in Africa and to provide inexpensive treatment for those with AIDS. The most-prominent campaigns he supports are The ONE Campaign and also, The Product Red.

The ONE Campaign encourages Americans to voice their concerns and to fight against AIDS and extreme poverty, according to the campaign’s Web page. The campaign believes that 1 percent of the U.S. budget would change the future and hopes of an entire generation of the poorest countries.
Bono has been signing up audience members during U2’s current Vertigo tour in the United States and Europe. He hoped to get a million people; so far he has gotten two million, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The Product Red has brought American Express, Converse, Gap, and Giorgio Armani together to raise awareness and funds for The Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa. These companies are licensed to sell Red branded products, and they have committed to contribute a profit from the sales into AIDS programs focusing on women and children in Africa, according to the campaign’s Web page.

Bono’s ability to make a personal connection with his audience was first seen during the Live Aid concert in 1985. U2 was playing “Bad”, actually a relentless 13-minute version of it, when Bono leapt off the stage to dance with a fan. Since then he has talked about the world’s poor with congressmen, senators, and even with President George W. Bush. He has had lunch at the White House, and he helped to persuade several industrialized countries to forgive debts of some of the poorest African countries during a G-8 meeting last year.

Fans from all over the world are comparing a U2 concert to a religious experience. To them, being a U2 fan is more than just liking the music; it is also a political and religious ideology, as expressed in many of Bono’s lyrics.

Bono might not be a God, but he is “the most politically effective figure in the recent history of popular culture,” said The New York Times, and he was named Person of the Year in 2005 by Time magazine. In addition he has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

So perhaps a rock star can change the world where many politicians have failed. And maybe someday, Africa will stop being a place where the streets have no name, and we can all be one in the name of love.

As of press time U2 had postponed their April show until November, according to their Web site, due to an illness in the family.



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