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Arctic Concert To Support HIV/AIDS Relief In Africa

Far from Africa, but not all that far from the North Pole, a concert is being held tomorrow to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. It’s called “46664 Arctic.”

The number 46664 was worn by Nelson Mandela during the many years he was a prisoner in South Africa. Mr. Mandela will attend the concert in the northern Norway seaport town of Tromso.

Erik Jansen is the head of public relations for the concert. From Tromso, Norway, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about why it’s being held.

He says, “The purpose of the concert is to really put HIV and AIDS on the agenda in Europe. Because Mr. Nelson Mandela uses the artists to get attention to this issue and it’s a huge problem in Africa. We want to unite the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere. And we like to call this ‘join forces from the south cape to the north cape.’ So, actually we’re trying to get the attention up to Europe."

Mr. Jansen believes the issue has not received the attention it should in Europe. He says, “Yes, I think especially in Europe. There was a big issue in the 80’s when AIDS came up, but after that it’s been very quiet. And we’re now seeing that AIDS is spreading also to our neighbors, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe. And that’s a big concern because we don’t have any control of what happens if it spreads further to the western part of Europe. And we also know that the leaders of the European countries have both the political and economic power to do something about the AIDS problem in Africa. That’s also going to be one of the issues here and, of course, Mr. Mandela is going to address that at his speech that G8 leaders have to do more.” Angelique Kidjo and Bongo Maffin are among the African artists performing Saturday. Top European artists Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel are among the headliners.

The concert is being held about midway between the North pole and the Arctic Circle. Mr. Jansen says the Midnight Sun should shine on Nelson Mandela when he addresses the concertgoers.