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Time Magazine nominated Bono as Person of the Year for being 'shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow.'

By Vida Adamoli


Bono, front man and main lyricist of the Irish band U2, is the image of a rock star, complete with chin stubble and tinted glasses. He's also a humanitarian activist using his fame to create positive change.

Bono has been dubbed by the New York Times 'the face of fusion philanthropy' for enlisting the support of politicians, religious leaders, media stars and big business, while working with networks binding global humanitarian relief with geopolitical activism and corporate commercial enterprise.  He tempers idealism with realism and says that one of the blind spots of our age could be something as simple as 'our deep down refusal to believe that every human life has equal worth'.

Bono - real name Paul David Hewson - was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. In 1976, aged 16, he got together with school friends to form U2. The fact it was a band with spiritual values and a social and political conscience proved no impediment to its subsequent success. In 1987 Rolling Stone magazine wrote that their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, increased the band's stature 'from heroes to superstars'.

His social and political activism kicked off in 1979, inspired by benefit shows staged by John Cleese and producer Martin Lewis for the human rights organization Amnesty International. At times it took over from music as a driving force. In 1984 Bono sang on the Band Aid single 'Do They Know it's Christmas?/Feed the World' .Two years later he performed with U2 on Amnesty's US Conspiracy Of Hope tour. They also performed in the Band Aid and Live Aid projects, organized by Bob Geldof, and in the 2005 Live 8 project, organized by Geldof and Bono jointly.

Since 1999, Bono has become increasingly involved in campaigning for Third World debt relief and raising awareness of the plight of Africa, including the AIDS pandemic. And part of his message is that Africa needs justice even more than it needs charity. During a 2002 visit to the White House, after President Bush unveiled a $5 billion aid package, he joined Bush in an address on the White House lawn. 'This is an important first step,' he told the assembled gathering, 'and a serious and impressive new level of commitment.'

His most recent high-level meeting was in early 2008 with President Sarkozy of France. During this feisty encounter they discussed effective aid, French aid and the damage done to EU credibility by broken promises to the world's poor. At the end of it the President had pledged to restore 20 million Euros cut from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. He also said he would immediately submit a plan to restore France's pledged aid initiatives. While admitting this wouldn't be easy, Sarkozy promised that 'France would keep her word'.

Bono has received many prestigious humanitarian awards. He has also been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2005 he was one of the first recipients of the TED Prize, which grants each winner 'A wish to change the world'. Watch Bono's acceptance speech below.

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