Are Bono and Bob Geldof good for Africa?

Wed May 13, 2009 10:16am EDT
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By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - "Ireland," I answered the taxi-driver's question when I first went to Ethiopia in 2006.

"You know ... Bob Geldof, Bono?," I continued, confident he would recognize me as a countryman of the two rockers who many Westerners think fed the world during the 1980s.

"Bondof?" came the puzzled reply. "Oh, Ireland! ... You mean Roy Keane! Gerry Adams! IRA!"

And so began a pattern of national identifiers that has lasted for my three years in this country the Dublin singers first introduced me to as a child during its ruinous famines.

Soccer legend Roy Keane. Political firebrand Gerry Adams. Irish Republican Army. In that order.

Rarely a "Bono' or a "Bob' spoken.

It's not just that the people of this beautiful Horn of Africa nation are largely ignorant of the two men who still say it affected them like no place ever has.

It's that, when they are mentioned, it's usually in a critical tone that would surprise most Westerners.   Continued...

<p>U2 lead singer Bono (L) and Make Poverty History organiser Bob Geldof confer during their final news conference at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, July 8, 2005. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>