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U2 Rock Star Bono Still Searching in Africa

Posted on Wednesday, May 22 @ 11:33:48 CEST by Macphisto

ACCRA, Ghana (Reuters) - Irish rock star Bono broke into song Wednesday for school children in Ghana during a fact-finding tour of Africa with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

Bono said he doesn't normally sing on request but a 12-year-old pupil who had never even heard of the U2 frontman until a cavalcade of gleaming four-wheel drive vehicles descended on the school persuaded Bono to break his own rule.

Bono, whose tour alongside O'Neill includes Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia and Uganda, sang the 1987 U2 hit "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" while the unlikely traveling companions were at the school.

"They told us he was a well-known singer, so I told him to sing for us," said Felicia Boateng, who attends the Richard Akwei Memorial school in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Ghana's capital.

"Normally I would say, 'No, I don't go there,"' said Bono, placing his trademark blue wrap-around sunglasses over the young girl's eyes.

"Thanks for making me do that," he told her, shading his own eyes with his hands. "You know what you are? You are genuinely cool. Maybe I'll get there when I'm 60."

Former businessman O'Neill and seasoned debt relief campaigner Bono are touring Africa together to see how aid from rich countries can help the world's poorest continent drag itself out of the economic mire.

O'Neill is a keen advocate of private enterprise and noted critic of lending by some Western institutions while Bono insists poor countries still need help building decent roads and providing basic services before enterprise can flourish. "I consider myself one of the best arm wrestlers I know and part of my job is to arm wrestle people who feel aid can't be effective," Bono told pupils and teachers in a dusty courtyard under a blazing midday sun.

The school is part of a project funded by foreign donors and Ghana's government. It aims to teach pupils skills such as cooking and leatherwork so they can try and make a living in an area with high unemployment.

"We are really, really, really happy we are getting help. It's our prayer that it grows further," said Elisabeth Agyemang Gyau, 49, an English teacher at the school of nearly 900 pupils.

However she was as bemused as many others in the school by Bono's visit. "Who is he?" she asked as the convoy raced to catch a plane for an afternoon visit to the north of Ghana.

"Why didn't he stay and talk to the children about AIDS?"

By David Clarke

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