Video: Africa through Bono's eyes

By Brian Williams Anchor & “Nightly News” managing editor
NBC News
updated 5/24/2006 7:53:48 PM ET 2006-05-24T23:53:48

We are just back from a whirlwind tour of three nations in Africa. In Africa, the tour continued Wednesday, where we left the Irish rock star-turned-humanitarian Bono.

The man from Ireland, who is greeted as if he were a visiting head of government, met with John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor, the president of Ghana.

Bono considers the high-level meetings a necessity. But he prefers to approach the problem at the ground level.

“Who here is going to school?” Bono asked Nigerian kids during the trip. As their hands rise, the rock star has made a connection with them.

It's important to remember, in this land of old and new, where we saw a village elder — a member of the local school PTA — who brought his electronic PDA to a meeting in Nigeria, most Africans don't know who Bono is. They just know that he's out to help them by raising billions, along with awareness.

“Look at these kids,” Bono insists to NBC’s camera crews. “Come on over here! Look how royal they are — the most beautiful kids on earth!”

Bono says, over and over, “This is what it's all about, in microcosm, right here.”

The people who are already part of the struggle — part of the daily effort in Africa — have instantly allied themselves with Bono.

"It's not charity, it's just an investment in the future of the developing world,” says Richard Feachem, the executive director of Global Fund, an organization dedicated to fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. “It's a kind of tough love."

“It will give us hope,” says village nurse Hannah Ndabi, “as well as people in the community,  that somebody is coming to see our needs and maybe support us in the near future.”

Video: How to help in Africa

“The story we need to communicate is what Africa is doing for itself. And because Africa is sick of aid, they don't want aid,” Bono says. “They need aid in this moment of their development, but actually what they really want to do is trade.”

Because a life in rock music has been very good to this man who grew up in lower middle-class Ireland, he says now it is his turn to go after TB, malaria, HIV and poverty — while there is time.

“We have written off the continent of Africa, and history will not be kind to us for that,” he says. “God will not let us do that. These people — their lives — before God, are as valuable as yours and my children.”

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