More than 30,000 cheering fans created a deafening roar as Beyoncé Knowles took the stage with U2 singer Bono and guitarist the Edge Saturday evening in Cape Town, South Africa, to perform "American Prayer," a song about combating AIDS in Africa.
The song, written by Bono and Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart, was one of the highlights of the AIDS benefit concert, which also featured performances by Peter Gabriel, Queen guitarist Brian May, Ms. Dynamite, Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), the Corrs and others.
The event was staged at Green Point Stadium and hosted by Nelson Mandela. The 84-year-old former South African president, who was jailed in 1964 for protesting the racist law of segregation in South Africa known as apartheid, is one of the world's leading AIDS activists. During the show, Mandela stepped out wearing a black shirt emblazoned with his former prison number, 46664 (also the name of his campaign to fight AIDS), and spoke to the crowd.
"For the 18 years that I was in prison on Robben Island I was supposed to be reduced to that number," Mandela said, according to the Associated Press. "Millions infected with HIV/AIDS are in danger of being reduced to mere numbers if we don't act now. They are serving a prison sentence for life."
During the concert, May performed the new song "Invincible Hope," which featured samples of Mandela's voice, reported the BBC. In addition, Gabriel and the Soweto Gospel Choir sang "Biko," a song about slain anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and Bono and Stewart sang "Long Walk to Freedom," which they wrote together earlier this year.
During the event, organizers broadcast messages about the AIDS crisis recorded by former President Bill Clinton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Robert De Niro, Sir Ian McKellen and Annie Lennox.
The concert was broadcast live over the Internet and will air Monday (December 1) at 6 p.m. ET on MTV.
More than 5 million people in South Africa — one-ninth of the total population — are infected with HIV. According to the United Nations, over 3 million people worldwide died of AIDS this year.