Vanity Fair’s Africa Issue


Fresh on the heels of its green issue featuring Leo DiCaprio with an adorable baby seal, Vanity Fair has devoted July to Africa, with U2′s Bono acting as symbolic "guest editor." I admit I was skeptical at first, especially considering the glossy adds for Product (Red)–Bono’s effort to donate a percentage of profits from consumer goods to health care in Africa–throughout the magazine. Sure enough, the Brad Pitt interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu is unreadable. But I highly recommend Sebastian Junger‘s reporting from Chad on China’s growing economic influence in Africa and support for the genocidal Sudanese regime. Junger highlights fears on the continent that over-reliance on Chinese construction, labor, and oil investments will create a neo-colonial relationship. And he points out that the United States’ blockage of China’s attempt to purchase UNOCAL forced China’s hand in pursuing oil reserves in beyond-the-pale Sudan. A reminder that energy policy is a crucial aspect of our foreign policy. And that climate change and poverty and genocide go hand in hand.

The profile of Jeffrey Sachs is interesting if you don’t already know a lot about him. I also wouldn’t miss "The Lazarus Effect," which details exactly how the uber-slick Product (Red) campaign works: The advertising dollars are drawn from each company’s marketing budget (Gap, Apple, Converse, etc.), so no charity funds are going toward PR. And so far, Product (Red) leather jackets, watches, iPods, and such have raised $25 million to provide Africans with anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS. (I just can’t figure out why those annoying parentheses are part of the name).

If you make it through all this, the excerpt from Tina Brown‘s new book on Princess Diana is pretty absorbing. Who knew she was secretly in love with a Pakistani heart surgeon?

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