Vogue Paris | Penelope Cruz Echoes Bono (RED) Message

Once again Vogue Paris editor Carine Roitfeld has her finger on the pulse of change, handing the guest editor baton to Penelope Cruz and friends Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Gwenyth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, and Bono.

The artistically stunning black and white shoot by Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin support a big message: Bono’s (RED) campaign, committed to fighting AIDS in Africa.

Bono is everywhere this week, launching the first ESPN MUST-WATCH video for the 2010 FIFA World Cup games.  What I’ve been trying to say in 100,000 words at Anne of Carversville, Bono manages to belt out in 60 seconds. There’s some learning here, and — as I read on a U2 blog — the hand of John Lennon.

Penelope Cruz and Meryl Streep promote Bono’s (RED) in Vogue Paris, May 2010In this week’s NYT Op-Ed piece Africa Reboots, Bono observes changes among Africa’s emerging entrepreneurial class and its civil-society activists.

It’s no secret that lefty campaigners can be cranky about business elites. And the suspicion is mutual. Worldwide. Civil society as a rule sees business as, well, a little uncivil. Business tends to see activists as, well, a little too active. But in Africa, at least from what I’ve just seen, this is starting to change. The energy of these opposing forces coming together is filling offices, boardrooms and bars. The reason is that both these groups — the private sector and civil society — see poor governance as the biggest obstacle they face. So they are working together on redefining the rules of the African game.

Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow in Vogue Paris, May 2010Bono calls out several of the new ‘luminaries’ he calls catalysts for change:

Bono and Penelope Cruz in Vogue Paris May 2010

John Githongo: Kenya’s famous whistleblower hired by his government to clean things up. It seems he did too good a job. Now Githongo has started a group called Inuka “teaming up the urban poor with business leaders, creating inter-ethnic community alliances to fight poverty and keep watch on dodgy local governments.”

Naomi Watts is (RED) HOT! for Paris Vogue May 2010

Sharing a table with Githongo and me one night in Nairobi was DJ Rowbow, a Mike Tyson doppelgänger. His station, Ghetto Radio, was a voice of reason when the volcano of ethnic tension was exploding in Kenya in 2008. While some were encouraging the people of Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, to go on the rampage, this scary-looking man decoded the disinformation and played peacemaker/interlocutor. On the station’s playlist is Bob Marley and a kind of fizzy homespun reggae music that’s part the Clash, part Marvin Gaye. The only untruthful thing he said all evening was that he liked U2. For my part, I might have overplayed the Jay-Z and Beyoncé card. “They are friends of mine,” I explained to him, eh, a lot.

Here’s a video interview of DJ Rowbow, talking about Ghetto Radio and its place in the Kiberia community.

In Senegal Bono met with Youssou N’Dour, who owns a newspaper and is trying to buy a TV station.  Youssou N’Dour was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 most influential people” in 2007.

Youssou Ndour is the subject of a widely-acclaimed film by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, “I Bring What I Love’.

In Maputo, Mozambique Bono met with Activa, a women’s group tht helps entrepreneurs get seed capital. The women complained about the excessive rates they’re now being charged for microloans. This problem is one of growing, grave concern to all of us who support microloans for women worldwide.

Before closing up shop with Madiba, the great Nelson Mandela, Bono devotes big words to Mo Ibrahim, whose brainchild is the Ibrahim Prize:

 … a very generous endowment for African leaders who serve their people well and then — and this is crucial — leave office when they are supposed to. Mo has diagnosed a condition he calls “third-termitis,” where presidents, fearing an impoverished superannuation, feather their nests on the way out the door. So Mo has prescribed a soft landing for great leaders. Not getting the prize is as big a story as getting it. (He doesn’t stop at individuals. The Ibrahim Index ranks countries by quality of governance.)

Just as activists and business leaders are coming together in Africa, key players — the sexy people with heart — bring Smart Sensuality activism to fashion. Bono is a leader in this movement that’s truly gaining traction.

Penelope Cruz has outdone herself in these Vogue ParisLamsweerde & Vinoodh photos, meeting all our celebrity-struck needs for a dose of the red carpet, while making a social activism statement for (RED).

Simply brilliant and oh so beautiful to look at! Anne