NEW YORK POST – PAULA FROEHLICH/PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
In January 2012, Bono arrived in Timbuktu on a private jet with “ONE” emblazoned on the side, accompanied by his wife, daughters, the designer Renzo Rossi and several others.
He had come to the historic city in Mali for a festival celebrating the music of the famous Tuareg tribe. On the night of the event, Bono and his entourage were placed on a small bleacher surrounded by, yet separated from, the thousands of local people via metal traffic barricades and a dozen heavily armed men. Toward the end of the evening, a woman announced that “BONE-no from Youtube” was in attendance. Later, the U2 frontman appeared on stage screaming, “We are brothers here!” and “Music is stronger than war!” before trying to sing in French in front of a nonplussed crowd. Then he exited the event, boarded his jet and flew back to the country’s capital, Bamako.
The next morning, the nomadic Tuaregs, who inhabit the north of Mali and the Sahara, told government ministers who’d arrived for the festival that they would once again be taking up arms to revolt against the regime. Three months later, Al Qaeda usurped the Tuareg rebellion and started raping women, chopping off limbs and burning libraries full of centuries-old books, but there was scant mention of Mali in the western press.