22 OCTOBER 2003
British R&B diva Ms Dynamite met up with Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, to help publicise a concert to fight Aids in Africa. The 22-year-old singer will be joined by a roll-call of music industry heavyweights when the gig takes place, as Bono, Beyonce and Queen are to headline the event.
The initiative, which is the brainchild of the former South African president, is to be called "46664", after his prisoner number from his days behind bars. The revered statesman spent 18 years in prison for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.
"Millions of people today infected with Aids are just that – a number," said the 85-year-old at the campaign launch in London. "That's why for the first time, I am allowing my prison number to be used, to brand this campaign. A tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa."
The concert, which is to take place in Cape Town, will be broadcast around the globe on World Aids Day, December 1. A CD and DVD are also to be released, featuring contributions from such artists as Britney Spears, David Bowie, 50 Cent, Shakira and Pink. The campaign has also been endorsed by Robert De Niro, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
A single entitled 46664 – Long Walk To Freedom, which was recorded by Bono, Yossou N'Dour and Dave Stewart, has just been released. And phone lines are also being set up so that audiences all over the world can call in and contribute to the cause. In the UK the number will be 09060 1 46664.
"Aids today in Africa is claiming more lives than the sum total of all wars, famines and floods, and the ravages of such deadly diseases as malaria," said Nelson. "We must act now for the sake of the world. Aids is no longer a disease, it is a human rights issue." Approximately 30 million people in Africa are infected with HIV, and Aids has so far killed 17 million people on the continent.