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AFP : Mandela launches music campaign to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa

mercredi 22 octobre 2003 / par Dom

Source : AFP

South Africa’s former president, Nelson Mandela, launched a worldwide campaign that will culminate in a star-studded concert in Cape Town in November to raise awareness about AIDS in Africa.

The 46664 Campaign — using Mandela’s prison number under apartheid — calls on all governments to declare a global AIDS emergency and will include Bono of the pop band U2 and US singer Beyonce Knowles.

The 85-year-old statesman told a press briefing : "AIDS is a tragedy of unprecedented proportions unfolding in Africa.

"No longer is AIDS just a disease, it is a human rights issue, for the sake of the world. We must act now to raise funds to help those affected by AIDS and raise awareness to help to prevent further spread of HIV," he said.

Explaining why he wanted his prison number to be used, Mandela said : "’46664’ was my prison number for 18 years when I was in prison on Robben Island. I was known as just a number. Millions of people today infected with AIDS are just that, a number," he said.

"They too are serving a prison sentence for life, that is why for the first time I am allowing my prison number, 46664, to brand this campaign," Mandela said, with former Eurythmics leader Dave Stewart and Queen guitarist Brian May at his side.

Some 6,500 people a day die from AIDS each day in Africa. The disease has so far killed 17 million people on the continent, while about 30 million Africans are infected with HIV and AIDS.

The concert, to be attended by about 40,000 people on November 29, will be broadcast free around the world. The campaign’s public relations company says it is estimated that about two billion people will watch the concert.

"Those who have committed to the concert include Anastacia, Beyonce, Bono, The Corrs and Eurythmics," a statement from the campaign said.

Roger Taylor, a member of Queen who helped arrange the concert, said the campaign wanted to achieve a massive boost in awareness.

"AIDS is the most important issue facing Africa today, and through awareness we can do something about it," he said.

People around the world will be called on to join a global petition, via local call-in numbers, in which they will hear music and learn about AIDS. All the proceeds from the calls will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

A compact disc featuring the artists will be released in 2004, while a DVD of the concert is planned for release in March next year.

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