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29 juin 2008

Smith hosts Mandela concert

On Teletext : Nelson Mandela praised the celebration of his 90th birthday concert - but said it was time for "new hands to lift the burdens" of human suffering. Looking frail but smiling, Mandela was physically helped on to the stage and used a stick as he delivered his birthday speech at London's Hyde Park.

Earlier, Hollywood actor Will Smith kicked off the star-studded bash, saying: "The party begins now." When Mandela arrived on stage he was flanked by stars of the show, including Geri Halliwell and Leona Lewis.

He said: "Even as we celebrate, let us remind ourselves that our work is far from complete. Where there is poverty and sickness, including Aids, where human beings are being oppressed, there is more work to be done. Our work is for freedom for all."

Leona Lewis was one of the biggest hits of the gig, singing her ballad Bleeding Heart as well as Better In Time.

The X Factor winner said: "When I was younger I remember my aunty and grandmother used to tell me stories about this incredible, wonderful, great man, Nelson Mandela. We used to sing songs about him. It's incredible to sing here today at his 90th birthday celebration."

Annie Lennox, who performed with the Agape Choir, took to the stage wearing a T-shirt saying "HIV Positive". In a message to Mandela, talking about HIV and Aids, she said: "We must do something to prevent a virtual genocide upon your people."

Peter Gabriel then introduced rapper Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier. Gabriel said the performer had the "potential of a young Bob Marley".

Amy Winehouse defied her detractors to take to the stage just days after coming out of hospital.

U2's Bono and The Edge recorded a version of Happy Birthday for Mandela. The concert was to benefit the former South Africa president's HIV Aids charity 46664.

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