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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Bono and Beyonce head Aids gig
Bono has long been involved with African initiatives
Beyonce, Queen and Bono from U2 are to headline a huge concert in Cape Town, South Africa, to raise awareness of Africa's Aids plight.

They will be joined by artists such as Anastacia, Ms Dynamite and a host of African acts for the show, which will take place on 29 November.

A CD and DVD will be released early in the new year in aid of the campaign.

The initiative, called 46664 and spearheaded by Nelson Mandela, was launched in London on Tuesday.

The five digits 46664 represented Mr Mandela's prison number for more than 18 years while he was kept prisoner in South Africa's Robben Island jail.

Beyonce will play at the concert on 29 November
"Millions of people today infected with Aids are just that - a number," he said. "They too are serving a prison sentence for life.

"That's why for the first time I am allowing my prison number...to brand this campaign."

The former South African president added: "A tragedy of unprecedented proportions is unfolding in Africa.

"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.

"We must act now for the sake of the world. Aids is no longer a disease, it is a human rights issue."

Rock musicians at the heart of the project include U2 singer Bono, Queen stars Roger Taylor and Brian May, and former Eurhythmics member Dave Stewart.

We have been involved in Aids education and support ever since Freddie died
Brian May
It is backed by a wide range of artists such as Britney Spears, David Bowie, Pink, 50 Cent, Shakira and Sir Paul McCartney.

Actor Robert De Niro, chat show host Oprah Winfrey and former US president Bill Clinton also endorse it.

Ms Dynamite said: "It's really vital we make this point as big and as quickly as possible."

Queen's Brian May said: "It's very important to us. We have been involved in Aids education and support ever since Freddie (Mercury died). In Africa this is the hugest crisis ever."

Lithographs signed by Mr Mandela will be auctioned to raise funds for the initiative, which also involves what organisers say will be the world's biggest petition.

Citizens around the world will be urged to pressure their governments to respond to Aids as an international emergency.

Nelson Mandela
Mandela's prison number, 46664, is at the centre of the campaign
The campaign is using internet and mobile phone technology to reach millions of potential supporters, who will be asked to give "one minute of your life" to Aids.

Highlights of the three-hour concert at Cape Town's Greenpoint Stadium will air on MTV globally on World Aids Day, 1 December, to a potential audience of two billion.

A song, 46664 (Long Walk to Freedom), - performed by Bono, Youssou N'Dour, Abdel and Dave Stewart - is released on Tuesday.

In a music industry first, it will only be available throughout the world via telephone lines, then subsequently on the Web at www.46664.com.

Audiences can listen by dialling different numbers throughout the world, which will in most countries incorporate the five digits 46664.

In the UK all telephone users can call a premium line using the number 09060 1 46664.

Some 30 million Africans are affected by Aids, and 4.1 million are predicted to die in the near-term unless they get access to affordable treatment.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Aids kills twice as many in Africa as die from malaria"

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