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Pop star and activist Bono has called for the creation of a United States of Africa as a way of solving the continent’s conflicts and problems.

The U2 singer made the statement while in Japan for a major development conference last week. The 48-year-old said that developing a broader identity may seem “poetic,” but has proven successful in the past.

“Irish people used to always have a little giggle when they would see Americans saluting their flags in schools, and then the whole standing there, singing the flag thing,” he said. “But as you get to know a little bit more about things, you start to think, ah, there’s so many different tribal groups in the United States, that to create a national identity of that size, they had to really work at this kind of patriotism.”

It is an initiative that has already been seen in Africa: the African Union – which has been involved in the conflicts in Darfur and the Comoros island of Anjouan – was created in 2002 with inspiration from the European Union, but some people say the body has lacked the funds and political will to take effective action on the continent’s flashpoints.

The singer also joined with Bob Geldof during his time in Japan to be a guest editor of a supplement to the Asahi Shimbun, an influential liberal daily newspaper. The edition featured articles penned by the likes of George Bush Sr and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Bono used the opportunity to urge Japan to use the G8 summit to push forward the goal of halving extreme poverty in the world by 2015 and also praised Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s pledge to double Japanese aid to Africa. Bono appealed to the Japanese public to care more about Africa and pointed to the growing rivalry with China, which has been making inroads into Africa.

“The Japanese I know do not like the fact that China is leaving them behind in Africa,” wrote the singer. “They want to show the world what Japan stands for.”

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