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Hyde Park concert for Nelson Mandela's 90th

8th May 2008

Twenty years after a historic Wembley Stadium concert called for his release from Robben Island, Nelson Mandela will travel to London next month for another musical extravaganza to celebrate his 90th birthday and raise awareness of Aids in Africa.

Queen, Annie Lennox, Leona Lewis, the Sugababes, Dame Shirley Bassey, Simple Minds, Eddy Grant, Jamelia, Andrea and Sharon Corr and Razorlight are just some of the artists that will appear on stage in London's Hyde Park on 27 June to celebrate the life and work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights leader.

They will be joined by African performers including the Soweto Gospel Choir, the Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal, South African singers Johnny Clegg, Sipho Mabuse and Loyiso, the Aids orphans choir The Children of Agape and the legendary Congolese musician Papa Wemba.

The organisers have also promised several surprise performances and, although none are confirmed, there have been rumours that Amy Winehouse, Eminem, U2 and The Spice Girls will appear on the night.

Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Lewis Hamilton, Robert de Niro and Forest Whittaker are all due to attend three days of celebrations in honour of Mr Mandela.

Precisely 46,664 tickets are being sold – representing Mr Mandela's Robben Island prison number. He was prisoner number 466, imprisoned in 1964.

After striving for decades and eventually succeeding in ending apartheid in South Africa, Mr Mandela turned his attentions in 2002 to one of the most pressing issues facing the country today, HIV and Aids. The 46664 campaign was launched in November 2003 with a concert in Cape Town directed by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox and Queen's Brian May and Roger Taylor, supported by Bono, The Edge and Beyonce.

The former ANC president will use the Hyde Park concert to step down from his campaign work with the organisation.

In a message on the 46664 website, Mr Mandela, who turns 90 on 18 July, said: "You all know that I am supposed to be retired but when you retire it means that you can have time for birthdays.

"My friends and the charitable organisations that bear my name want to use my 90th birthday year to raise funds to continue our work and so of course I want to help them. London wants to celebrate my birthday and I said I would go if they would raise funds for our charities.

"So, we have a bargain – I am going to London and they will host a concert in Hyde Park, which will raise awareness of our work and much needed funds."

The Nelson Mandela 70th birthday concert on 11 June 1988 was a focus for the anti-apartheid movement in the UK, which used the event to call for his release from prison. The Eurythmics and Simple Minds, who will perform in Hyde Park, both appeared at the original concert alongside Whitney Houston, Sting and Dire Straits.

Mr Mandela was finally freed from Robben Island on 11 February 1990, after 27 years in prison. When he was released, there were 120,000 people living with HIV in South Africa. Today, more than 5.5million South Africans are living with HIV/Aids.

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