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Bono calls for action in Africa
Posted Nov. 5, 2007

Highlighting the need for taking action on matters of extreme poverty and the obstacles that hinders positive action was the subject of Bono’s lecture, “A Lesson in Giving Back” Tuesday night.

The lead singer of U2 took a break from the recording studio to commend Claremont McKenna College students for their role in community service and speak on the need to do more.

Bridges Auditorium was filled to the brim with students, faculty and alumni from Claremont McKenna College and the surrounding colleges.

“Everywhere I go, I find Americans that want to do more,” Bono said. “We can no longer stand for people dying.”

There was a brief introduction piece by way of a slideshow capturing Claremont McKenna students and alumni who have taken on different environmental and societal problems through activism and service. Then Bono poked his head from the curtain to the wail of the audience members and walked up to the podium.

Bono began by giving some information on the dire need for support of developing African nations, a particular interest of his. He highlighted his work in co-founding Debt AIDS Trade Africa and One Campaign to Make Poverty History.

He mentioned the staggering number of people that die from AIDS, malnutrition, starvation and common illnesses.

“It’s an obscenity that malaria hasn’t been eradicated. We know how to do it, but it’s not done,” Bono said. “It’s an obscenity that diarrhea is a death sentence.”

After bringing to light the scope of the problem, Bono detailed some of the obstacles preventing aid in African nations, from corruption at home and abroad to indifferences among the population.

“Lack of progress is not because of the man but of indifference,” Bono said.

Bono hailed the success of Product (RED) and other efforts to bringing help to African nations to the social movement. He said the people who acted on the wishes and appeals from the politicians and rock stars deserve the credit, not the other way around.           

Through the success of Product (RED), a program where money is raised by having global brands sell (RED) products and donate a percentage of the funds to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, 1.5 million Africans now have AIDS medication.

“From an economic point, it makes a lot of sense,” Jesse Franklin, an economics major at the Claremont McKenna said.

Throughout Bono’s presentation the rock star’s appeal and mannerisms kept the attention of the audience. From making a couple of jokes regarding his secrecy of being here instead of being at the recording studio to providing impressions of key figures in his anecdotes, Bono was able to liven the talk without compromising the seriousness of the situations.

"He was good at relating to students and giving a serious speech,” said Spencer Clark, an economics major at Claremont McKenna College. “It’s one thing to have an idea. He’s doing the right thing leaving to society to take it the rest of the way.”

Bono ended his speech with an uproar of enthusiasm, an appeal for patriotism among the students and a call for continued support the causes that would help bring an end to social and economic issues in Africa.

“America is not just a country but an idea. It’s a beautiful, poetic idea,” Bono said. “America has so much to offer. We can’t fix all the world’s problems, but the ones we can, we must.”

Following his presentation, President of Claremont McKenna College Pamela B. Gann joined Bono on stage for a question and answer session where she read questions submitted by Claremont McKenna students.

The inquiries ranged from the origins of his activism to the reality of his approach to the problems in Africa.

“He has a very romanticized view. If his message inspires people, then I’m all for it,” said Natalia Bailey, an international relations major from Claremont McKenna College.

Andres Rivera can be reached at