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Bono, Chris Tucker Address UC Audience
On Crises Threatening Africa

Date: Dec. 6, 2002
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos by Lisa Ventre
Archive: General News



Two simple words of worldwide recognition generated lively discussion Friday afternoon at the UC College of Law, when a standing-room-only crowd filled a lecture hall for a stop on the DATA organization's Heart of America tour.

Agnes Nyamayarwo, Bono and Chris Tucker

Bono, the lead singer of U2 and driving force behind DATA, was there. So was actor Chris Tucker. Adding poignancy to their message was Agnes Nyamayarwo, a nurse from Uganda who lost her husband and 6-year-old son to AIDS. She herself is now battling the disease while benefiting from the anti-retroviral drugs that so many Africans can't get.

They brought a powerful message: America can, and must, do something to help Africa avert disaster.

While celebrities often speak out about what Bono called the "cause de jour," he asserted that that is not what this tour was about.

"Two-and-a-half million Africans will die next year, because they can't get access to drugs to fight AIDS. That's not a cause - that's an emergency. In fact, it's even a crisis in our culture, and it's not being described as such. It actually speaks quite eloquently about us. How is it we can live in a moment where two-and-a-half million people can die, and it not be described as an emergency?"

The presence of Nyamayarwo and Tucker added depth to Bono's plea. Tucker said he joined Bono's barnstorming bus tour across the Midwest this week because of the impact four visits to Africa within the last year have made upon him. "It just shook me,'' he said. "Being an African American and seeing Africans (under those conditions), it shook me. It made me think of my little nieces and nephews."

Friday's event was hosted by the College of Law's new Urban Justice Institute. Center directors Jack Chin and John Cranley also addressed a crowd of more than 80 students and faculty primarily from the law school and the UC College of Medicine's infectious disease program.

Christine Smith, a second-year UC law student, was struck by the number of ways the discussion looked at approaching Africa's problems, including both international debt relief and the AIDS crisis. "It is great that people as high profile as this are willing to stand up and say, 'We will not fail.' "

Bono has been up front throughout the tour that he hopes to use his celebrity as currency in promoting social issues of importance. He consistently showed charm and wit in making his points to the UC audience.

"It is great to be on campus. (But) I don't have any letters after my name. In fact, I don't even have any names after my name," he joked.

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