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Bono and O'Neill in Africa: Summing up the trip

By Daryn Kagan
CNN

(CNN) -- CNN anchor Daryn Kagan has been accompanying U2 singer Bono and treasury secretary Paul O'Neill as they travel through Africa. The duo's last stop was Ethiopia. Bono took the time to talk with Kagan about the past two weeks on Thursday from Addis Ababa.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Greetings from Ethiopia. It has been an incredible two weeks here in Africa, and I have one of my main tour guides with me right now, Bono, who has been traveling along with us and the treasury secretary. Thanks for joining us live on CNN.

BONO, SINGER, U2: Happy to be here.

KAGAN: The folks back home in the U.S. are thinking a lot today about the end of the search for bodies at 9/11. Probably to most people in the States, where we are here in Africa seems very far away. Why should they care about what happens to the people here?

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Archive: Kagan reports
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Map: Bono-O'Neill Tour

BONO: You know, somebody right at the top of the administration said to me a few months ago that they were quite aware that there is another 10 Afghanistans potentially in Africa. I don't think it is smart to wait around until these countries blow up in our face. I don't think it is economic[ally wise] either, because it costs a lot more to put out the fires than it does to prevent them. That's why we are here.

KAGAN: People were very taken by this traveling combo of you and the treasury secretary. You are two men who come from very different worlds, yet came here with open minds. What is the main thing that you learned from the treasury secretary on this trip?

BONO: Well, you know, rock for infrastructure is not something that I think I could I get away with, you know what I mean? It's not so romantic, it is not an emotive issue, but I have learned from him the importance of infrastructure in these countries. It is a harder sell for me, maybe for him. Water is really an essential ingredient to a health care system, that type of thing.

KAGAN: And what do you think you taught him on this trip?

BONO: Not how to sing.

KAGAN: We haven't heard him sing U2 yet.

BONO: No. I tell you, it is not really about what he taught me and what I taught him. It is about what we were both taught by the people that we met. We have met people that have changed our lives in a way that we will not easily forget.

And you know, I met this boy, [an] amazing character. He was on HIV. He looked so great, picture of health. Five years ago, he was half his body weight. He had TB. He had scratches all over his arms from itching. Just because he stumbled into a French aid program, from Medecins Sans Frontieres [Doctors Without Borders], his life has been transformed. But guess what? He has two kids. He has lost their mother to HIV/AIDS.

His new woman in his life, has been with her two years, she has HIV. So here is his choice. He shares the drugs with her and they both die slowly. He gives the drugs to her, and those kids lose their last parent. Or he keeps the drugs, and loses the love of his life. I don't think that's a -- I don't think that, in a civilized world, that we make him make that decision.

KAGAN: And so, you have met those people, and I have met those people as we have gone along, and so has the treasury secretary, and we will carry them in our hearts. But where does this trip go from here? You go back to the world of rock and roll. The treasury secretary is going back to the Bush administration. What can happen from this trip?

BONO: Forget hearts. That is really the thing here. It is not about emotions here. You have got to be tough-minded. There are too many lives at stake, and that is actually why I like having him around. He is a hard-headed, hard-nosed guy, and we need that, you know? We need to actually transform the lives of these people, and we can, and I believe if we can convince the Americans that the money won't go to corrupt regimes, and money won't be wasted on bureaucracy, I believe we can get whatever it costs, probably a half a cent on the dollar, and you can transform the lives of people living in this continent.

KAGAN: You took some grief within your political world for going on a trip like this.

BONO: It is pretty unhip, it is tough. Look, it is a lot more romantic to be on the barricades with, you know, a handkerchief over your face, and throwing rocks. But what I have learned is, on this one, these people's lives, it is too many people's lives in the balance. Millions. We have got to stop playing politics with this. We have a president who is interested in these issues. We have a Congress who is interested in these issues, both sides of the aisle. The Democrats and the Republicans.

And at the moment, everyone is thinking about 9/11 and defending the country of America, and I'm with them on that. We also have to defend -- as an outsider, as an Irishman, I can say this -- the idea of America. This is what America is about. You read the Constitution, it is a poetic thing, standing with the weak and oppressed and guarding each man's sacred honor, or whatever the phrase is. That's the America I'm a fan of. There is a lot at stake here in lives, but there is also back home, a sense of people wanting to believe in that again.

KAGAN: Bono, thank you. And on a personal note, thank you for helping me see my first trip to Africa. It has been an amazing two weeks.

BONO: Thank you. You have made it really easy on us, and CNN banging it out there really, really makes a big difference. Thank you.

KAGAN: It has been an honor. Bono with me live from Addis Ababa.



 
 
 
 







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