VANITY FAIR RELEASES UNPRECEDENTED 20 DIFFERENT COVERS FOR AFRICA ISSUE GUEST-EDITED BY BONO
Cover Features Oprah Winfrey, Desmond Tutu, Bill Gates, George Clooney, Madonna, Muhammad Ali, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Iman, Brad Pitt, and 11 Others
June 2007- New York, N.Y.- Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and first-ever guest editor Bono publish Vanity Fair's special Africa issue with an unprecedented 20 covers featuring Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Warren Buffett, George W. Bush, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Bill and Melinda Gates, Djimon Hounsou, Iman, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Barack Obama, Brad Pitt, Queen Rania of Jordan, Condoleezza Rice, Chris Rock, Desmond Tutu, Oprah Winfrey, and Bono, all shot by Annie Leibovitz.
Bono and Carter collaborated with Leibovitz on the historic set of 20 covers to show a prominent group of people with one thing in common-Africa.
"We went after this publication's extraordinary photographers and storytellers because we needed help in describing the continent of Africa as an opportunity, as an adventure, not a burden. We wanted to draw attention not only to the crises of Darfur and of AIDS, but also to the potential and optimism across these 53 diverse countries" said Bono, of his decision to guest-edit the issue. "I am in awe of Annie Leibovitz-a devoted mother, she traveled all over the world shooting these cover stars. She only stopped when we ran out of time."
"The covers are a kind of visual chain letter, spreading the message from person to person to person," says Leibovitz. "These are incredible people of our time who all have a passion for and a connection to Africa. It was important to me to really show the humanity in their faces."
Shooting the 20 covers was a monumental task, and over the course of six weeks Leibovitz flew all over the world. Given the continuity of the covers, with each subject appearing on two different ones, to have every person pose with two others would have required two separate shoot dates for each subject and extensive travel, which in some cases would have required treks from Japan to Los Angeles, New York to Omaha, Washington, D.C., to Dublin, or Phoenix to Washington to London. So we left the flying to Leibovitz, who traveled to Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; London (twice); Dublin; Chicago (twice); Seattle; Los Angeles (twice); Phoenix; Omaha; Washington, D.C.; Seoul, South Korea; and Osaka, Japan. (She also did three different shoots in New York City.)
"In a couple of cases people are actually together, like Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush and Alicia Keys and Iman, but the reality is that with people's schedules and availability it was not possible to shoot everyone together," says Leibovitz. "So, these are more photo illustrations than photographs, but the point was to unite people for a common purpose." (To see Annie's full itinerary, and who was photographed where and when, go to www.vanityfair.com.)
Carter writes that "Bono is not only passionate about Africa, he is also incredibly well-informed. And who didn't admire what he had done with his fortune and fame: marshaling the forces available to someone in his position in a serious crusade for debt cancellation and for eradication of H.I.V./ AIDS in Africa."
Carter calls Bono a "wonderful collaborator-quick, smart, generous to a fault, and always willing to laugh at himself. That he is genuinely funny and a storyteller with a great gift for mimicry made the experience that much more memorable." Bono describes Carter as "a true rock star. (Checklist: mad hair, natty dresser, de rigueur unrepentant smoking, etc. I looked like his manager.) He is the dramatist that we've been looking for."
Vanity Fair contributing editor Lisa Robinson, who spoke with many of the cover subjects for this issue, writes about their involvement with Africa:
Iman: "My Africa is rich in human resources and dignity," says the Somalia-born global ambassador of Keep a Child Alive. "I get insulted when I see only images of our dying, our wars, our Darfur, our AIDS victims . not our doctors, our nurses, our teachers. Africa must find its own saviors: the salvation of Africa is in the hands of African women." Everyone should be involved, she says: " We need everyone from Angelina to Aunt Gina."
Maya Angelou: "The dignity of the African people simply will not be dismissed with 100 years of colonialism and the years of having slavery as the main export. You have to stand up for the fellow who's been knocked down. I am filled with gratitude for those who say, 'I identify with those people because they are human beings, and nothing human can be alien to me.' That's a powerful statement and a powerful thing to do."
Muhammad Ali: "Each visit [to Africa] has proven to be a rare opportunity to discover just how magnificent and culturally rich the African people are. It is true, Africa has endured famine, drought, and the AIDS epidemic, but what is more important is that the people have endured . with dignity and hope. It is their hope and mine that this rich and magnificent land will one day be restored to the majesty of its ancestors."
Alicia Keys: "When you go to Africa there is a spirit that is very resilient, and it's a very inspiring thing to be around; it definitely gives me a sense of purpose, something to work for."
Djimon Hounsou: "The goal of the African people is to become self-sufficient," otherwise "sometimes it does feel like the white man's burden. Some of the efforts need to be implemented by Africans who do good for the continent. Then people can see that their own people can really make a difference. We are not looking for a handout."
Oprah Winfrey: "Education is freedom; it's the only way out. Despite the poverty and despair many of these young African children face every day, they have a fierce determination to get an education. I want to help give them the chance they deserve."
Barack Obama: "I can still remember my first trip to Africa, two decades ago, when my sister's Volkswagen Beetle broke down," Obama tells Robinson. "While that first trip was about discovering my past, my recent trip was about Africa's future. And it filled me with hope."
George Clooney: "I wanted to take all the attention I was getting and do something positive with it," Clooney says of his visit to Darfur and the documentary he made. "The more time you spend with the people in the camps, who are holding on by a whisper and still believe that their lives will be better, the more you believe that anything is possible."
Bono: "This is an emergency-normal rules don't apply. There are no easy good or bad guys. Do you think an African mother cares if the drugs keeping her child alive are thanks to an iPod or a church plate? Or a Democrat or a Republican? I don't think that mother gives a damn about where that 20-cent pill comes from, so why should we? It can lead to some uncomfortable bedfellows, but sometimes less sleep means you are more awake."
Jay-Z: "I come from the Marcy projects, in Brooklyn, which is considered a tough place to grow up, but [visiting Africa showed me] how good we have it. The rappers who say, 'We're from the 'hood,' take it from me, you're not from the 'hood. You haven't seen people with no access to water. It really puts things in perspective."
Chris Rock: Rock helped launch (Red) last year and writes about his first trip to Africa for this issue. "I didn't know what to say to Nelson Mandela besides 'it's an honor to meet you.' It's not like we had a lot in common. He was 90, I was 40. He's South African, I'm American. He's a scholar; I'm a high-school dropout. He went to prison for 27 years. I worked at Red Lobster for 8 months."
Warren Buffett: "The Gateses have set out to try and figure out how they can help the most human lives in the world. So when I can get some people who are ungodly bright, energetic, putting their own money into it . to work for me for nothing, it's not a bad deal."
Bill and Melinda Gates: "I'm optimistic," says Bill, "that people's thinking will evolve on the question of health inequity-that people will finally accept that the death of a child in the developing world is just as tragic and worthy of our attention as the death of a child in the rich world." Melinda adds: "I believe the connection happens when you see people as neighbors and not as strangers. The people of Africa are our neighbors."
Don Cheadle: "Though the situation in Darfur today is dire, if our leaders insert themselves in a multilateral, political, and diplomatic process, I believe we can help to end the pain and suffering of literally millions of civilians."
Queen Rania: "The world is failing millions of children, especially in Africa.. Lack of access to vaccines means that the world loses over two million children every year. We can save them all. These statistics belong to the children of the developing world, the heartbreak belongs to their parents, but the responsibility belongs to us all."
Madonna: In a conversation with Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the former director of the World Health Organization's H.I.V./AIDS department, Madonna tells him, "I asked one of the children in Malawi, 'If you've got the world listening to you, if there's one thing you could say to the world, what would you say?' And he said, 'Please just help us forget that we're orphans.'"
George W. Bush: The U.S. has quadrupled aid to the continent of Africa over the last six years. In 2003, Bush pledged $15 billion to fight AIDS primarily in Africa, and in 2005 pledged a $1.2 billion initiative to fight malaria in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the disease.
Brad Pitt: In 2005 Pitt helped launch the One Campaign to Make Poverty History. He is also a founder of Not on Our Watch, an organization that will use prominent names and faces to help raise awareness for global humanitarian crises, starting in the Darfur region. He speaks with Archbishop Desmond Tutu for this issue.
Condoleezza Rice: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been President Bush's right hand in efforts to increase aid to Africa. She was an instigator of PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), and as a result the United States is supporting almost one million people on lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment on the continent. Dr. Rice was also a founder of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, whose goal is to tackle global poverty and corruption.
Desmond Tutu: Tutu has devoted his life to working for human rights. Currently he is establishing the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town to "promote sustainable peace and values-based leadership throughout the world."
There are a number of initiatives to benefit the Global Fund on (Red)'s behalf associated with the issue.
Vanity Fair will donate on behalf of (Red) $5 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for every subscription that is purchased on-line in the month of June. And it will guarantee that the subscriber's first copy is the Africa issue.
Vanity Fair and (Red) introduce a compilation of West African music curated by Grammy-Award-winning African musician Youssou N'Dour. The album goes on sale today at iTunes-100% of the sales price will be contributed to the Global Fund.
All parties involved with the album have waived their profits, so 100 percent of the $8.99 sales price will be contributed to the Global Fund.
To order a particular cover of Vanity Fair's Africa issue, go to www.vanityfair.com, and click on the link to www.amazon.com.
Vanity Fair Africa issue: Slideshow, go to http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/07/onthecover_slideshow200707
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"Reproduced with permission - VANITY FAIR"