Agnes Nyamayarwo: U2 Academic Conference

The following is a recap/overview of Agnes Nyamayarwo’s presentation at The Hype and The Feedback, the first-ever academic conference about U2. It doesn’t reflect all of her presentation and many parts are paraphrased.

Bono introduces Agnes NyamayarwoBefore Agnes speaks, Bono introduces her via a pre-taped video. He says hello to the conference attendees and says that U2 is proud of the involvement of their audience in stuff going on outside of the music.

Bono – “The woman I’m about to introduce you to is a proper rock star in that she’s an actual heroic figure. She’s dangerous – the quietest storm that ever blew into town. She is one of the greatest campaigners in the history of this fight.”

Bono – “When I first met Agnes in 2002, I think there was only 50,000 people in Africa, on the entire continent, on anti-retroviral drugs. Now there’s 3 million, largely because of people like Agnes and those of you who got out and campaigned.”

Agnes comes on stage and gets a standing ovation from the whole audience. Begins to talk…

Agnes lost her husband to HIV/AIDS, lost her youngest son to HIV/AIDS, and another son ran away — Agnes hasn’t seen him since 1993. Agnes herself was also diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

She wanted to find a way to educate other parents about HIV/AIDS prevention. Joined TASO, The AIDS Support Organization.

Agnes Nyamayarwo speaks to U2 fans

In 2001, Agnes started getting sick. It continued into 2002. In May 2002, she and others from TASO first met with Bono and Paul O’Neill.

Bono: “Are you on life-prolonging treatment?” We said no, because we don’t have the money. Bono asked, “where do you get the courage to do all this?” We knew our time was coming (i.e., death), but we continued working. Bono said we were the real fighters. Bono provided funding so that the group could start treatment.

We started on treatments right after that. Within months, my health was back. But I was feeling guilty that we would live while others are dying.

In November 2002, Bono invited Agnes to educate Americans as part of the Heart of America Tour. “Bono talked about our suffering as if he was one of us, one of the African people. His passion has increased our motivation to do more.”

“My dream is to see Africa, and the whole world, free of AIDS.”

4 Responses to Agnes Nyamayarwo: U2 Academic Conference

  1. StrongGirl October 13, 2009 at 5:58 am #

    Thank you for the recap m2. I was not able to be there, but I have known about Agnes for a year now. Six months ago I had the honor of hosting a fundraiser for her. I sold the beautiful handmade African dolls and jewelry the ladies of her village make. One of the greatest joys of my life was handing over the check knowing that someone’s life would be saved because of it. What I did not expect was to get a personal thank you from Agnes herself! She made quite an impression on Bono and is my personal hero. Thank you for including her in the first U2 Academic Conference so that so many others would have the chance to know her story and learn about her work. She will be an inspiration for so many more people because of it. I know in my heart this made Bono very happy.

  2. Maggie_O_Canada October 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    Where might I find more information on such “handmade African dolls and jewelry the ladies of her village make”? Is there a website to visit or an address to write to?

  3. Debbie K October 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Hi Maggie, thanks for your interest in Agnes Nyamayarwo & the women that she works with in Uganda,the Mulago Positive Women’s Network (MPWN).

    I have been working with Agnes for three years on this project which received the B-man’s personal blessing in Sept. 2007 when I mentioned our website to him.

    Please visit our website & our MySpace page for Agnes & the women of the MPWN to learn more about them.

    We hope that you’ll be so moved by their personal courage & dignity in “living positively” with HIV/AIDS that you’ll want to purchase some of their handcrafted Ugandan items. ALL THE PROCEEDS from the sale of these items go directly to the women.

    Take good care & hope to hear from you soon!

    ONLY LOVE – debbie 🙂

    http://www.mpwn-uganda.org
    http://www.myspace.com/mulago

    PS: Thanks to the U2 Conference for allowing us the opportunity to share our story with all the conferees.

  4. StrongGirl October 17, 2009 at 5:50 pm #

    Hi Maggie!

    Yes, Agnes and the ladies of her village who make this beautiful stuff are a part of the Mulago Positive Women’s Network. You can learn all about them and the beautiful stuff they make at their official website:

    http://www.mpwn-uganda.org/