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30 juin 2008

Mandela concert attracts 50,000 people

Posted by on Monday Sam Banda Junior, AfricaNews reporter in Blantyre, Malawi

Former South African president Nelson Mandela received a massive audience of up to 50,000 people Friday during his concert in London's Hyde Park. Several music artists which included Amy Winehouse came together during the concert aimed at raising funds for the South Africa’s first black presidents HIV/Aids charity ahead of his birthday next month.

During his stay in Britain, Mandela has uttered just four words of criticism of Zimbabwe in a speech at a dinner -- "tragic failure of leadership" -- but they were enough to make headline news. Actor Will Smith kicked the show in style when with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith quoted singer Peter Gabriel saying if the world could only have one father, the man who would have been chosen would be Nelson Mandela.

Mandela who was very happy with the concert turns 90 on July 18. Speaking during the concert which was partly overshadowed by Zimbabwe’s disputed elections also on Friday, said the African continent needs to know that there was more work to be done to give freedom for all.

“Let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete and our work is for freedom for all,” Mandela told the BBC. The former president further observed that where there is poverty and sickness including HIV/Aids and that where human beings are being oppressed there need for more work to be done.

A BBC report Friday said Mandela arrived on stage flanked by stars of the show, including Geri Halliwell and Leona Lewis. Mandela’s charity concert dubbed 46664 charity was named after his prison number which was given during the 27 years he spent behind bars for his stand against South African apartheid.

However the report said the concert finally reached the climax when with the coming in of a rendition of The Special AKA hit Free Nelson Mandela, written by Jerry Dammers, which became an anti-apartheid anthem in the 1980s.

Many African artists also flew in for the birthday gig, including Papa Wemba of DR Congo, and South African singers Loyiso and Kurt Darren. Mandela popularly known as Madiba among the country’s locals, officially retired from politics nine years ago, but he is still a moral authority admired the world over.

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