News24, 07 December 2002, Stars to join SA Aids concert

Cape Town - Former President Nelson Mandela announced Friday he will host a concert featuring some of the world's leading entertainers to raise funds for Africa 's millions of Aids victims. 

U2 star Bono, Macy Gray and Shaggy had already agreed to perform at the show on February 2, to be held on Robben Island.

Michael Jackson, Sting, Bruce Springstein, Bob Dylan, Elton John and Janet Jackson have also been approached to play at the event - titled "Mandela SOS" - for an audience of 3 000 invited guests.

Mandela, 84, one of the world's most revered figures, emerged from prison to become South Africa's first democratic president in 1994. He stepped down in 1999 and has since become a vocal activist in the fight against Aids.

"The concert will focus on the growing impact that Aids has on human life, not only in South Africa but throughout the world," Mandela said.

"We must never allow those who are infected and affected by Aids to become statistics."

Plans for the concert were announced at a banquet staged in a marquee in a botanical garden on the slopes of Cape Town's flat-topped Table ountain.

Guests included talk show host Oprah Winfrey, Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Renzo Rosso, president of the Diesel clothing company and one of the events main sponsors.

"I am certain we will overcome this epidemic," said Tutu, who was also a leading anti-apartheid activist. We overcame apartheid, we will overcome Aids."

An estimated 4.7 million South Africans - one in nine - are HIV positive, more than in any other country in the world.

Winfrey, who publishes a version of her magazine O in South Africa, said it was her aim to humanise the Aids epidemic.

"It is my goal and the goal of the Oprah Winfrey show to take the story of Aids and this pandemic back to the world and use my show to overcome and heal," she said.

Businessman Richard Branson and model Naomi Campbell added their support to the initiative via satellite messages.

"Aids has currently eliminated 25 million lives and is spreading fast," said Branson. "Something must be done to stop this scourge." - Sapa-AP