(Paul David Hewson 1960– )
an Irish rock singer, the lead singer with the rock band U2. He has been involved in political issues such as third-world debt (= money owed by poor countries) and the problem of AIDS in Africa. In 2002, he set up an organization called DATA (Debt, Trade, AIDS in Africa) to raise awareness about these issues.

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▪ 2003

      On May 20, 2002, Irish rock singer and songwriter Bono and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill embarked on an 11-day economic mission to Africa, visiting Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Although the pairing might seem unlikely, Bono had for many years been a strong advocate of aid to less-developed countries and had gained considerable knowledge on the subject. The men were not in harmony on the best use of aid money in Africa, however. O'Neill favoured investments in African enterprises, while Bono preferred debt relief and aid given directly to organizations and individuals.

      Bono was born Paul Hewson on May 10, 1960, in Dublin. In 1976 he and two high-school classmates, Dave Evans and Adam Clayton, answered an ad tacked to a bulletin board by Larry Mullen, Jr., who was seeking to form a garage band. At first they toured the local Irish club circuit, where they developed a distinctive blend of punk rock and classic rock mixed with Gaelic influences. In 1978 the band, U2, was signed by Island Records, and a series of successful albums soon followed. Marked by lyrics with social and religious references and by music that was sometimes brooding and sometimes anthemic, they included Boy (1980), October (1981), War (1983), The Unforgettable Fire (1984), and the band's international breakthrough The Joshua Tree (1987).

      U2's music won both critical and popular acclaim. By the early 1990s the band had won several Grammy Awards and had sold more than 40 million albums. Then, describing themselves as suffocating under the image they had created, they began experimenting with electronic and dance music, often featuring heavy drumbeats, amplified guitar wails, and warped vocals. Successful albums in this mode included Achtung Baby (1991), Zooropa (1993), and Pop (1997). In All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000), U2 changed course once again, returning to the more classic rock and roll of their early years.

      It was at this time that Bono developed his interest in political and social activism. In the 1980s, inspired by the Live Aid concerts that raised money for Ethiopian famine victims, he went to Ethiopia and worked with relief agencies there. In 1999 he became involved with Jubilee 2000, later known as Drop the Debt, a London-based group that considered the debt owed by less-developed countries to be a form of slavery. At this time Bono met with national leaders and Pope John Paul II to promote the group's agenda. In expressing his thoughts on the relationship between his music and his social and political activism, Bono said, “I still think that rock music is the only music that can still get you to that eternal place where you want to start a revolution.”

David R. Calhoun

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▪ Irish musician
byname of  Paul David Hewson  
born May 10, 1960, Dublin, Ire.
 lead singer for the popular Irish rock band U2 and prominent human rights activist.

      He was born of a Roman Catholic father and a Protestant mother (who died when he was just age 14). In Dublin in 1977, he and school friends David Evans (later “the Edge”), Larry Mullen, Jr., and Adam Clayton formed a band that would become U2. They shared a commitment not only to ambitious rock music but also to a deeply spiritual Christianity. Indeed, one of the few genuine threats to U2's extraordinary longevity (a collaboration—with the manager, Paul McGuinness—of more than 30 years) occurred extremely early in the band's life when three of its members, including Bono, considered joining a Christian fellowship. Throughout U2's career, religiosity has infused the group's songwriting and performance.

      Led by vocalist Bono, U2 gained popularity on a global scale that few musicians have ever experienced. After releasing a pair of generally well-received albums, the band broke through in 1983 with War and had even greater success with The Unforgettable Fire in 1984. The next year, the band was approached by Jack Healy, head of Amnesty International USA, and was asked to join the “Conspiracy of Hope” tour to bring attention to human rights violations and encourage fans to fight them. Afterward Bono toured war-torn Nicaragua and El Salvador with groups seeking to help the victims of violence and poverty in those countries, and he grew increasingly interested in the plight of people in the less-developed world. His experiences informed the band's biggest-selling and most influential recording, The Joshua Tree (1987), which ranked 26th when Rolling Stone magazine selected its top 500 albums of all time in 2003. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004) became U2's sixth number one album, and by 2006 the group had sold some 150 million albums over its career.

      Described by his close friend and U2 guitarist the Edge as the “chairman and founding member of Over-Achievers Anonymous, with an irrepressible lust to be great and a lust for life,” Bono decided, after participating in various benefits for humanitarian causes with other musicians, to deploy his fame and the access it brought to world leaders to commit himself to a second career as a global politician without portfolio. Dividing his time between fronting his remarkably durable band and meeting with presidents, prime ministers, economists, ministers, scientists, and philanthropists, Bono eventually helped found in 2002 Debt AIDS Trade Africa (DATA), a policy and advocacy organization that seeks to eradicate poverty, hunger, and the spread of AIDS in Africa through public awareness campaigns and in-country partnerships. That year he appeared on the cover of Time magazine with the legend “Can Bono Save the World?”

      Despite his success at raising awareness, Bono has been criticized by many in the aid community for his willingness to work with leaders whom many progressives consider to be anathema (particularly Pres. George W. Bush (Bush, George W.)) in order to try to secure additional money for AIDS programs and debt relief for impoverished African countries. Bono's most high-profile trip occurred in May 2002 when he traveled throughout Africa with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, an excursion the Washington Post called a potential beginning of a “momentous…alliance between liberals and conservatives to launch a fresh assault on global poverty.” Writing in the New York Times, James Traub characterized Bono as both “a kind of one-man state who fills his treasury with the global currency of fame” and “an emanation of the celebrity culture.”

Eric Alterman Eve Rose Alterman

▪ historical state, Africa
      Akan state (Akan states) of West Africa from the 15th to the 18th century, located between the forests of Guinea and the savannas of The Sudan in what is now Brong-Ahafo Region in the Republic of Ghana.

      Bono was probably founded about 1450, and its rise was undoubtedly connected with the developing gold trade of Bighu, a Malian Muslim or Dyula commercial centre 40 miles (64 km) to the northwest. From there Muslim traders came to Bono soon after its foundation, and many members of the royal household were later converted to Islam.

      The kings of Bono are said to have played a major role in the gold-mining industry: both Obunumankoma (fl. c. 1450–75) and ʿAlī Kwame (fl. c. 1550–60) are thought to have introduced new mining techniques from the western Sudan to the Akan fields, and Owusu Aduam (fl. c. 1650) is reported to have completely reorganized the industry. From the Akan fields the gold passed through the entrepôts of the western Sudan along the trade routes of the Sahara to the terminal ports of North Africa and from there to Europe and elsewhere. Bono engaged in wars with Jakpa (Jakpa, Sumalia Ndewura) of Gonja and was finally subjugated in 1722–23 by Opoku Ware of the Asante empire.

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Universalium. 2010.

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