2005-03-20-Stars unite for Mandela concert

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2005-03-20-Stars unite for Mandela concert

 

Stars such as Will Smith, Annie Lennox and Queen have taken part in Nelson Mandela's second Aids benefit concert in South Africa.

Musicians Katie Melua, Paul Rodgers and India Arie joined South African artists at Saturday's event, hosted by actor and rapper Smith.

Mr Mandela said $1.6m (£832,000) was raised during the concert by people donating money via text messages.

It followed 2003's concert, watched by an estimated two billion people.

Women 'vulnerable'

This year's theme was Women and Aids, with all proceeds going to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to combat HIV.

In South Africa women are six times more likely to become infected with the HIV virus than men.

Saturday's concert was held in the southern resort of George.

Former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox told the crowd of around 20,000: "In this society women are powerless and vulnerable to the whims of men who refuse to practice safe sex and use condoms."

Johnny Clegg, Mafikizolo and Kabelo were among local stars performing at the event.

US actor Brad Pitt sent a video message to the concert, watched by television viewers throughout Africa and worldwide on the internet, apologising for not being able to attend.

The former South African president, 86, was joined onstage by Gertrude Maqanda, an HIV positive woman who lives near George and is undergoing anti-retroviral treatment.

He said: "I would love to enjoy the peace and quiet of retirement but I know that, like many of you, I cannot rest easily while our beloved continent is ravaged by a deadly epidemic."

Mr Mandela added: "For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity. For every moment we remain silent, we conspire against our women. For every woman infected by HIV, we destroy a generation."

An estimated 5.3 million of South Africa's 45 million people live with HIV, more than in any other country.

Between 600 and 1,000 are dying every day from Aids-related diseases, according to UN figures.

The event once again took the name 46664, a reference to Mr Mandela's prison number during his incarceration in apartheid-era South Africa.

With ticket prices starting at 250 Rands (£21; $41), the cost was out of reach for many South Africans.

However organisers said 3,000 free tickets had been given away to the local community.

They decided to hold the event at Fancourt Golf estate because its owner, German billionaire Hasso Plattner, pledged to underwrite all costs.

The first 46664 concert, a much bigger and more elaborate event held at a Cape Town stadium in November 1993, was saddled with debt.

 


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