Vanity Fair or Fair Vanity? Bono’s Africa Issue
I’m not sure whether this kind of thing is on the radar screen of most Darfur watchers; but as this blog’s only non-expert contributor, I thought I’d point out that Vanity Fair has just now published its “historic” Africa issue, guest-edited by U2 frontman Bono (see his Message 2U).
Among other things it features articles on Madonna’s work in Malawi and on Jeffrey Sachs’ Millennium Villages, an interview with Desmond Tutu by Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton’s Nelson Mandela stories, and a portfolio of 71 leading Africans. Various top photographers took the photos of the 71, and various well-known Westerners wrote the accompanying profiles (e.g., Nadine Gordimer wrote about Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, Damien Hirst about Congo artist Chéri Samba, Mark Malloch Brown about Sudanese mogul Mo Ibrahim, and Gayle Smith and John Prendergast about ???–doesn’t say whom).
Here’s my question to those of you who follow African issues closely: What impact (if any) do you see on Darfur when Africa becomes the celeb-cause de jour, of which this issue of V.F. is the latest example? Is it vanity fair or fair vanity? To put it another way: Would it be hopelessly naive to think that celebrities and politicians from the developed world are consciously taking greater initiative to solve the continent’s problems, or that for once, the mainstream media is being honest and responsive to the continent’s needs? Or are we just looking at another versions of Rudyard Kipling’s white man’s burden? I suspect the latter but would like to hear some honest discussion.