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Fans, celebrities honour Madiba at 46664 concert

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Fans, celebrities honour Madiba at 46664 concert

by Gabi Khumalo
29 Jun 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

About 27000 music fans from around the world crammed into the Hyde Park venue in London on Friday where the annual 46664 concert was held to celebrate former President Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.

The concert featured national and international artists including the Soweto Gospel Choir, Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse, Vusi Mahlasela, Loyiso Bala, Johnny Clegg, Zucchero, Kurt Darren, Agape Choir, Will Smith, Jamelia, Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, Emmanuel Jal, Eddie Grant and Simple Minds.

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, whose actual birthday falls on 18 July, arrived in London earlier this month to take part in a series of events to mark the day.

Events ranged from exhibitions, dialogues, book launches, the 46664 concerts and the sixth annual Nelson Mandela Lecture.

The performing artists described Mr Mandela as a hero and inspiration.

Formula1 racer, Lewis Hamilton said he was defined as a here because he suffered for 27 years jailed on Robben Island but he still had the strength to forgive.

"Madiba has taught the importance of self belief and that together we can make a change," said Mr Hamilton.

Mr Mahlasela said the slogan for the 46664 concert, "It's in our hands", should be used as a platform to bring the HIV message to the people.

"We have to instil more hope," he said.

Fans went wild when Mr Grant performed his well-known anti-apartheid song 'Give me hope Joanna'.

"Madiba is a great fellow, they've told me that I'm 60 years but I don't believe them because of Madiba, he still looks good at 90 years," Mr Grant joked.

A smiling Madiba, who was sitting backstage during the show, came out with his wife to greet his fans and the South Africans who had gathered held up the country's flag in jubilation.

In his speech, Mr Mandela reminded the crowd that the work of eradicating HIV and AIDS and poverty was far from complete.

He urged people to take over and continue with the 46664 campaign.

"After 90 years of life, it's time for new hats to lift the burden, it's in your hands now," Mr Mandela said.

He expresses his gratitude to be part of the occasion following the concert for freedom held in London some 20 years ago.

The 46664 concert is one of the main events planned around Mr Mandela's birthday.

The 46664 initiative, named after Madiba's prison number, is an independent, non-profit entity based in South Africa and wholly owned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness about HIV and AIDS and supporting the fight against the global pandemic.

It uses mediums such as music, sport and entertainment to deliver its message to mainly young people.

The 46664 World Aids Day concert will be held on 29 November in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

North West Premier Edna Molewa also joined the voices in paying tribute to Mr Mandela as she sang praises to the man fondly called "Tata" by most South Africans.

"Let us live his loyalty to Africa and pronounce for all to hear our oneness with our brothers and sisters from elsewhere in the continent - taking note of his dream and desire to see Africa's children playing in the sun.

"His conviction that the African Renaissance is an ideal whose time has come and his call for the twenty first century to be an African century," she said at the sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces chamber in Parliament on Friday. - BuaNews

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