Who do Bono and the ONE campaign really represent: the very poor or the very rich?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian | 18th June 2013

Bono and Tony Blair

Bono and Tony Blair

It was bad enough in 2005. Then, at the G8 summit in Scotland, Bono and Bob Geldof heaped praise on Tony Blair and George Bush, who were still mired in the butchery they had initiated in Iraq(1,2,3). At one point Geldof appeared, literally and figuratively, to be sitting in Tony Blair’s lap. African activists accused them of drowning out a campaign for global justice with a campaign for charity.

But this is worse. As the UK chairs the G8 summit again, a campaign that Bono founded, with which Geldof works closely(4), appears to be whitewashing the G8’s policies in Africa.

bono and George W. Bush

Bono and George W. Bush

Last week I drew attention to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in the US when it chaired the G8 meeting last year(5). The alliance is pushing African countries into agreements which allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent their seeds and monopolise their food markets. Ignoring the voices of their own people, six African governments have struck deals with companies such as Monsanto, Cargill, Dupont, Syngenta, Nestlé and Unilever, in return for promises of aid by the UK and other G8 nations.

A wide range of activists, both African and European, is furious about the New Alliance(6). But the ONE campaign, co-founded by Bono, stepped up to defend it(7). The article it wrote last week was remarkable in several respects: in its elision of the interests of African leaders and those of their people, in its exaggeration of the role of small African companies, but above all in failing even to mention the injustice at the heart of the New Alliance – its promotion of a new wave of land grabbing. My curiosity was piqued. Continue reading