Surprise, surprise, Bono’s making good use of his celebrity this day.
[quote=“Bono, Guest Editor: I am a witness. What can I do?”]
May I say without guile, I am as sick of messianic rock stars as the next man, woman and child. I am also tired of average work being given extra weight because it’s attached to something with real gravitas, like the Aids emergency. So I truly try to tread carefully as I walk over the dreams of dignity under my feet in our work for the terrible beauty that is the continent of Africa. I’m used to the custard pies. I’ve even learnt to like the taste of them. But before you are tempted to let fly with your understandable invective, allow me to contextualise. Not for the sake of my vanity, but for the sake of people who are depending on you - the reader - to respond to the precariousness of their lives.
Picture this: a village where the disappearance of a whole generation has left children to bring up children (the Lord of the Flies syndrome).
I’m a witness to this. What can I do?
Or this: my new friend Prudence, who even if she had access to anti-retroviral therapies would not have shared them with her now dead sister or best friend Janny, because her fellow activists were more important to keep alive.
Why? Because picture this: most activists and trained nurses cannot afford the drugs available to us in any corner chemist.
I am a witness to this. I have watched these brave and beautiful souls who are fighting a forest fire of a pandemic with watering cans, knowing they will not see the light of a day when their work will be honoured. I have been a witness to their conversations around canteen tables, deciding who will live or die, because they do not have enough pills to go round. I’ve seen Zackie Achmat refuse his medications until he won his action against the South African government, forcing their hand on universal access. What a witness he was. And so I testify.
These firefighters deserve fire engines with sirens and low-flying aircraft with bellies full of of rain. At the very least, they deserve their situation to merit the classification of an emergency. Code Red, like Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami in south Asia, which swept away a hundred and fifty thousand lives. These were natural catastrophes. Africa loses a hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and children every month to Aids, a wholly avoidable disaster, a preventable, treatable disease.
Colin Powell describes the tiny little virus HIV as the most lethal weapon of mass destruction on the planet. So forgive us if we expand our strategy to reach the high street, where so many of you live and work…[/quote]
Some of the issues the Editor-for-a-day is pushing:
Children raising children–the number of African households headed by children has itself become a significant barrier to turning things around.
Trade vs. Aid
An issue-specific edition of a broadsheet ain’t a bad idea.