He's the cooler-than-cool rocker, the legendary front man of U2, husband of 22 years, and father of four, who's singing his heart out to shine light on a crisis devastating a continent.
By the time the sun sets this evening, AIDS will have claimed the lives of 6,500 more people in Africa. Before you finish this sentence, another mother, father, or child will succumb to the virus. We've all heard the numbers, shaken our heads at the horror, and moved on to whatever we had to do next. Bono, on the other hand, takes the AIDS epidemic personally.
"Our generation will be remembered for the Internet, for the war against terror, and for how we let an entire continent burst into flames while we stood around with watering cans—or not," he said when I sat down with him on my show. He compared the situation to watching Holocaust victims being put on trains while the rest of the world did nothing. Determined to take action, Bono launched a nonprofit organization, DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa). One of DATA's goals is to reduce African debt, which would free up billions of dollars for healthcare and education. Who else could have used rock 'n' roll to get us to feel the impact of Third World economics?
I caught up with Bono again in Cape Town, South Africa, after he'd given a riveting performance in conjunction with World AIDS Day. Born Paul Hewson to a Protestant mother and a Catholic father in 1960 in Dublin, this man with a social conscience and a contagious fervor makes being a pop star a part-time job. When we talked in Chicago, he left me with his own blue wraparound sunglasses—such a hot gift. This time he left me with an even greater treasure—his wisdom. We talked about everything from songwriting to raising kids to working to save Africa. I have the ultimate admiration and respect for him.
Start reading Oprah's interview with Bono
Note: This interview appeared in the April 2004 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.
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