Baba, a middle-aged, unemployed man lives in Palemo, Lagos with his wife Munira. Palemo is a poor district with no fresh water. One morning, Baba, sitting in the auto repair shop opposite his home, sees a man on TV wearing ‘dark red glasses that make him look like a mosquito’. U2 frontman Bono is meeting the British Prime Minister before coming to Africa to campaign for healthcare access for all Africans. Baba thinks ‘Mosquito Man’ looks like someone who gets things done and believes he is the man to make Bono listen to the problem in Palemo. When his friends call the local radio station and tell them Baba’s plans, the radio station offers to help him meet Bono. Baba becomes an instant celebrity. Rather than solving his problems, however, this brings him to the attention of journalists and business people who want to use him for their own ends.
Munira also has an agenda. Desperate to be a Nollywood star, she has been used and abused by men from her secondary school teachers to her current landlord. She married Baba because he’d lied about being rich; he married her because of her impressive figure. The abuse coupled with the sense that she will never escape her situation has made Munira vicious. There is a sense though, that underneath her thick skin is a desire to do good and create positive change in the world.
Looking for Bono is a story about structural inequality. How the rich get richer and protect their own when things go wrong. How the poor are pawns for the media, as well as corporations and supposed charity organisations. Ultimately it asks if change is possible and, if so, what does that look like?
Looking for Bono is published by Jacaranda Books and is one of their Twenty in 2020 series. The copy I read was my own purchase.