The 21 people shout-outs for the challenge, the promise, and the future of Africa.

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The 21 people who put their famous faces to work for this issue say it all. Annie Leibovitz paired them up on 20 different covers—shout-outs for the challenge, the promise, and the future of Africa.

GEORGE CLOONEY In 2005, George Clooney was going through the Oscar process when he read about the crisis in Darfur: "I wanted to take all the attention I was getting and do something positive with it. [But] you can't just talk about an issue, you have to understand it fully, you have to be there." With his father, Nick, Clooney traveled to Chad to film the 2007 documentary A Journey to Darfur. "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," he says, "the more you believe that anything is possible."
George Clooney


Not On Our Watch The ONE Campaign

JAY-Z Jay-Z went to Africa in 2006 on his first world tour and found a cause: 1.1 billion people don't have clean drinking water. He teamed up with the U.N., bought pumps, helped supply clean, running water to an entire village, and, with MTV, filmed a documentary, Water for Life. "I come from the Marcy projects, in Brooklyn," he says, "which is considered a tough place to grow up, but this [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 put things in perspective." Jay-Z supports: PlayPumps International

ALICIA KEYS Alicia Keys won five Grammys with her 2001 debut album , Songs in A Minor. But her world changed even more when she traveled to South Africa for her first concert there, in 2002, and became involved with Keep a Child Alive—a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing anti-retroviral treatment to children and adults with H.I.V./AIDS in Africa. "When you go to Africa, there is a spirit that is very resilient," she says, "and it's a very inspiring thing to be around; it definitely gives me a sense of purpose, something to work for."
Alicia Keys


Keep a Child Alive

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," says author, poet, historian, director, performer, and civil-rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou, who in 1996 was named a national ambassador to UNICEF. "You have to stand up for the fellow who's been knocked down," she says. "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."

IMAN Iman Abdulmajid is a supermodel, a businesswoman (C.E.O. of Iman Cosmetics), wife (of musician David Bowie), mother, and global ambassador for Keep a Child Alive. "My Africa is rich in human resources and dignity," says Iman, who was born in Somalia. "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." She encourages all involvement: "We need everyone from Angelina to Aunt Gina." Iman supports: Children's Defense Fund Rosie's For All Kids Foundation Action Against Hunger


Don Cheadle became acutely aware of the crisis in Darfur while filming Hotel Rwanda in 2003. Since then he has returned to Africa to spend time in refugee camps, testified before a Senate subcommittee on human rights, and coauthored (with John Prendergast) Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. "Though the situation in Darfur today is dire," he says, "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."

CHRIS ROCK Chris Rock writes about his first trip to Africa, when he met with Nelson Mandela. "I went to Mandela's house, but I didn't have a sense that he knew who I was; I didn't have these great accomplishments or anything," Rock, who helped launch (Red), says. "His kids, grandkids, and security guards knew who I was, but what do you say to Nelson Mandela? This guy's so great, what the fuck is he doing meeting with me? Is Ja Rule coming in next? Mandela should be meeting with Bono and Oprah … He shouldn't be meeting with the guy from Pootie Tang." Chris Rock supports: UNICEF Hope Worldwide

WARREN BUFFETT Financiers and philanthropists alike were shocked in 2006 when the world's second-richest man—Warren Buffett—pledged to give more than $30 billion worth of stock to the foundation run by the world's richest—Bill Gates—and his wife, Melinda. Why not give to a foundation that might need it more? "The Gateses have set out to try and figure out how they can help the most human lives in the world," says Buffett. "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." Warren Buffett supports: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

BILL AND MELINDA GATES The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $8 billion on global health, including the fight against AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Africa and elsewhere. "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." Bill and Melinda Gates support: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

OPRAH WINFREY Through her Angel Network, the public charity she founded in 1998, talkshow host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has helped fund 28 schools in five African countries as well as personally creating the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, in South Africa, in 2007. She says, "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." Oprah Winfrey supports: Oprah's Angel Network

GEORGE W. BUSH We at Vanity Fair didn't think there could be a silver lining to the Bush administration, but perhaps it is, of all things, President George W. Bush's work for Africa. As the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development—an independent monitor of global spending—reports, the U.S. has quadrupled aid to the continent over the last six years. In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush pledged $15 billion to fight AIDS primarily in Africa, and two years later pledged a $1.2 billion initiative to fight malaria in the 15 African countries hardest hit by the disease.

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU As a leader of South Africa's anti-apartheid movement and, later, its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has devoted his life to working for human rights. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, he is establishing the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, in Cape Town, to, he says, "promote sustainable peace and valuesbased leadership throughout the world." (For more details, go to Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports: The Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

BRAD PITT Brad Pitt's activism in New Orleans, Haiti, and Africa has received worldwide attention. His involvement in Africa began in 2004 with visits to Ethiopia and South Africa; in 2005 he helped launch the One Campaign to Make Poverty History. He is also a co-founder of Not on Our Watch, which teamed with the International Rescue Committee to hold premieres of Pitt's current film, Ocean's Thirteen, to benefit Darfur. He interviews Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

DJIMON HOUNSOU Once a year, actor Djimon Hounsou visits his family in Benin, where he recently helped rebuild his childhood home. "The goal of the African people is to become self-sufficient," says Hounsou, who served as a consultant on our portfolio, 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." Djimon Hounsou supports: The ONE Campaign

MADONNA "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?,'" Madonna told Dr. Jim Yong Kim, former director of the World Health Organization's H.I.V./AIDS department. "And the boy said, 'Please just help us forget that we're orphans.'" Madonna and Dr. Kim's conversation about the plight of the more than one million AIDS orphans in Malawi is on; read her own account of her work in Malawi in the Fanfair section. Madonna supports: Raising Malawi

BARACK OBAMA "I can still remember my first trip to Africa, two decades ago, when my sister's Volkswagen Beetle broke down," says Senator Barack Obama. "When I went back recently we had better transportation. But there was another difference. While that first trip was about discovering my past, my recent trip was about Africa's future. And it filled me with hope—because while significant obstacles remain, I believe we have the chance to build more equitable and just societies so that all people have the chance to control their own destinies.

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," says Muhammad Ali, who has been a messenger for peace for the U.S. government and the United Nations. "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."

H.M. QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN "The world is failing millions of children, especially in Africa," says Queen Rania Al-Abdullah, who is on the board of GAVI (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) Fund and was named Eminent Advocate for Children by UNICEF. "Lack of access to vaccines means that the world loses over two million children every year," she says. "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." Queen Rania is also an active advocate for micro-financing through FINCA International.

BONO Musician, activist, and V.F.'s first-ever guest editor, Bono is in favor of erecting a very big tent when it comes to the AIDS epidemic. "This is an emergency—normal rules don't apply. There are no easy good or bad guys," he says. "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." Bono supports: (Product) Red DATA The ONE Campaign Edun Go to the official U2 Web site

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 (the 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 in Africa. Dr. Rice was also a founder of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, whose goal is to tackle global poverty and corruption.