Mandela to host Robben Island benefit

BY Advocate.com Editors

December 10 2002 12:00 AM ET

Former South African president Nelson Mandela said he will host an HIV benefit concert in 2003 on Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars. The concert, which will feature top rock and pop artists, will be held on February 2 within the walls of the island prison, which is now a World Heritage site.

Mandela told a gala dinner on HIV awareness that artists such us U2's Bono, Macy Gray, and Shaggy had confirmed their participation. "The concert will be led by Bono and...will focus on the growing impact HIV/AIDS has on human rights, not only in South Africa but around the world," he said. Mandela, who admits he still finds it difficult to say the word "condom" in public, has become a leading HIV awareness campaigner in South Africa.

At least one in nine South Africans--or about 4.8 million people--has AIDS or is infected with HIV. Researchers say up to 7 million people could die of AIDS-related illness by 2010. Mandela said he has approached other international artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson.

The concert will be televised globally with all funds raised going to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the Robben Island Museum.

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