Mandela Plans 2nd AIDS Concert

Former South African President Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg after his only surviving son Makgatho Mandela had died Thursday, Jan. 6, 2005. Mandela told the news conference that his son had died of AIDS. On left is Mandela's granddaughter and daughter of Makgatho, Makaziwe Mandela.
AP
Actor Will Smith and musicians Brian May, Annie Lennox and India.arie are among the artists featured at former President Nelson Mandela's next star-studded concert to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic.

The March 19 event at Fancourt golf club in the Eastern Cape city of George will highlight the plight of women and girls, who are six times more likely than men to become infected here, Mandela said.

"We do not treat our women with enough dignity and respect," he told journalists at his Johannesburg foundation. "We must mobilize to act, and act soon, before it is too late."

Since stepping down as South Africa's first black president in 1999, Mandela has championed the cause of AIDS victims, especially in Africa where about 25 million of the world's 40 million HIV-infected people live. He heads an AIDS foundation named 46664, his prison number under apartheid.

The foundation organized a glittering concert in Cape Town in November 2003 and has also urged people around the world to contribute time and money to fighting the pandemic. South Africans can donate $3.36 to the cause by using their cellular phones to send their names via text message to the 46664 number.

While organizers are still recovering the cost of the first concert through CD and DVD sales, they hope this year's more modest event will raise funds for AIDS charities in South Africa.

Smith will be the master of ceremonies at the concert, at which May and Roger Taylor of Queen will be collaborating for the first time with Bad Company's Paul Rogers. Other international performers include Lennox, Katie Melua and India.arie.

A host of local talent will also be on stage, including Johnny Clegg, Mafikizolo, Karen Zoid and Danny K. All the artists will be performing for free.

More than 5 million of South Africa's 45 million people are infected with HIV, more than in any other country.

Mandela, whose eldest son recently died of an AIDS-related illness, said not enough had been done by South Africans since the last concert.

"I want each and every South African that is serious about our country's future to buy a ticket before it is too late," he said.

By Alexandra Zavis