Bono Spends New Year's 1996 in Sarajevo

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Reuters, December 31, 1995

Bono Spends New Year's 1996 in Sarajevo

By Sabina Cosic

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (Reuter) - Irish rock star Bono brought rock'n roll razzmatazz to Sarajevo Sunday -- mobbed by photographers, cracking self-deprecating jokes, and pronouncing himself a tourist with a conscience.

In trademark sunglasses and a peaked cap, the lead singer of supergroup U2 called a news conference during what was originally billed as a private visit to celebrate New Year in the Bosnian capital.

Bono declined requests to sing but otherwise gave a true perfomance. Photographers and cameramen followed his every move and gesture, clambering over each other as the singer spoke.

"I'm really happy to be the first tourist in the new Sarajevo," he said. "We really just came because we heard it was going to be a great party."

"It's not just that I'm a poseur ... If rock'n roll music mean anything, it's some kind of liberation...It is about freedom in the end. As absurd as it might look to have a rock'n roll star wandering through this landscape, there is a connection with us as a rock'n roll band."

Gesturing to the media crowd, he joked: "I don't feel comfortable unless I'm around this kind of thing ... I even have them at home."

The outspoken singer has used U2 concerts to attack Western powers for failing to end the war in Bosnia.

"What I can't understand is how more of our community -- musicians and artists -- didn't respond to what was happening here."

He said that U2's recent record "Zooropa" was "about the madness of Europe ... By mad I'm really saying that, how could we have let such a thing continue?"

Bono, who arrived Saturday on an aid flight from Zagreb, is a guest of the Bosnian government and was flanked at the news conference by Foreign Minister Mohammed Sacirbey.

He said he was not prepared for the destruction he saw on his way from the airport into the city and he praised the wit and courage of the people.

"My first impression was--if people can live through this, they must be a very extraordinary people indeed and they must have a great future ... It's an extraordinary symbol of East and West and it has become a symbol of tolerance ... I'm just really humbled to be here."

After visiting a few Sarajevo night clubs Saturday night, Bono noticed the music was blasting out of the loudspeakers "very loud."

"I understand there was some practical reasons for that over the past four years -- drowning out the shelling and stuff," he said.

Bono said he would be busy in 1996 working on a new record with his band, but suggested U2 could perform in Sarajevo in 1997.

Hugging his wife Ali, Bono left the news conference room for a tour of the city, once again surrounded by photographers.

Copyright © Reuters. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on December 31, 1995 8:51 PM.

Bono's acceptance speech at the Europe Music Awards was the previous entry in this blog.

Highlights from the Ned O'Hanlon Conference (featuring Edge) is the next entry in this blog.

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