News > South African Concert Cancelled

Added on 17-Jan-2003

The AIDS benefit concert dreamt up by former South African president Nelson Mandela, that Queen were going to play at, has been cancelled because of a disagreement between the funders and organisers.The concert was to showcase the world's top artists next month.

"We have concluded that the concert cannot take place since the proposed producers were not able to come to a satisfactory agreement with the foundation," John Samuel, chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, told SAPA news agency.

"There has been an inability of the organisers to deliver whatever they need to deliver," foundation spokeswoman Denise Philip said, without giving further details.

The day-long February 2 concert on Robben Island, where Mr Mandela spent 18 of the 27 years he served in jail under apartheid, was set to be one of the most prestigious in recent years.

A host of top musicians had pledged to take part, including Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics, Bono of Irish group U2, Queen, Macy Gray, Mos Def, Shaggy, Eve, Cold Play, Nelly Furtado, Ludacris, Baaba Maal, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Clegg, Lamya, Angelique Kidjo and Yusuf Islam.

Islam, a folk singer known as Cat Stevens before he converted to Islam in the late 1970s, was to have made his first public appearance in three decades at the 2,500-seat event, dubbed the Mandela SOS concert.

Bono, Stewart, and the late Joe Strummer of The Clash, who died suddenly last month, had written a song in tribute of Mr Mandela, which was to be performed at the concert and used to raise money to fight the AIDS pandemic.

It was to have been relayed simultaneously to some 30,000 people watching it on a big screen in a Cape Town stadium.

Mr Samuel said the cancellation had been decided well in advance to avoid the embarrassment of having to scrap logistical arrangements and other agreements.

And he paid tribute to the artists who had agreed to take part.

"We were overwhelmed with the enthusiastic response from international artists to Madiba's call for them to support the proposed concert," he said, using the clan name and nickname by which Mr Mandela's is affectionately called.

"We value their commitment to South Africa. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the South African sponsors and Real Concerts for its efforts," he added.

Mr Mandela, 84, and US talk-show host Oprah Winfrey launched the event - supported by model Naomi Campbell, Archbishop Desmund Tutu and British business tycoon Richard Branson - last December.

"We got rid of apartheid," Mr Mandela said at the launch in Cape Town.

"Now the time has come to rid the world of AIDS. It has killed more people than the major wars and disasters."

AIDS affects close to 30 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, more than in any other region of the globe.

The latest United Nations figures show that five million of South Africa's 46 million citizens carry the HIV virus.

Some 360,000 died of AIDS in 2001 and the country has 600,000 AIDS orphans.


Submitted by: Richard Orchard

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