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Prisoner 46664 launches Aids campaign
Former president Nelson Mandela has joined forces with famous musicians and called on the globe's citizens to join a global campaign.

Former president Nelson Mandela has joined forces with musicians and called on the globe's citizens to join a global campaign in the fight against Aids in Africa.

Mandela launched the 46664 campaign -- "Give one minute of your life to stop Aids" -- in London on Tuesday.

At a press conference held at Vodaworld in Midrand on Tuesday, organisers were unable to connect to a satellite to London where Mandela was speaking live, due to a technical problem. Highlights will premiere on MTV channels globally on World Aids Day, December 1.

South Africans have been called on to dial the numbers 46664 or log on to the website to join the petition.

It is a world-wide music-led campaign using the website and phone networks to raise funds and the awareness of the impact of Aids in Africa.

The campaign will culminate in a three-hour concert to be held at Cape Town's Green Point Stadium on November 29, in association with MTV's Staying Alive. A 46664 CD and DVD are planned for release early next year.

The show will be broadcast free to people around the world via television, webcast and radio, and the SABC will broadcast the entire show live.

To date, those who have committed include Anastacia, Baaba Maal, Beyonce, Bono, Johnny Clegg, The Corrs, Eurythmics, Moloko, Paul Oakenfold featuring Shifty Shell Shock and TC, Danny K, Bongo Maffin, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Queen and Zucchero.

Some of the campaign's sponsors include cellular giants Vodacom and media group Tiscali Online, and Real Concerts will promote the concert.

The campaign calls for people to join the global petition via local call-in numbers on which they can hear songs written by participating artists, contribute directly to the fight against the disease in Africa, be directed to the 46664 website to hear music, purchase exclusive 46664 tracks, download ringtones, make donations and leave e-mail addresses.

Mandela also called on the world's citizens to take action by pressurising their governments to declare a global Aids emergency.

Tiscali's spokesperson Diego Massida said 46664 was the prison number of Mandela on Robben Island in Cape Town where he was held in captivity for 18 years.

"The former president has, until today, held back his prison number.

"In his prison days he was simply that -- a number -- 46664. Today the millions of people affected by Aids are also increasingly numbers and statistics."

Massida said Mandela's prison number would become the mark of awareness-building and fund-raising in an attempt to free the world of this humanitarian disaster.

Vodacom's spokesperson Mthobi Tyamzashe said the Nelson Mandela Foundation will be the ultimate beneficiary of the funds collected from the campaign.

The track 46664 (Long Walk to Freedom), written by singers Bono, Dave Stewart and the late Joe Strummer and performed by Bono, Youssou N'Dour, Abdel and Dave Stewart, was released on Tuesday -- and in a music-industry first it will only be available throughout the world via telephone lines, then subsequently on the website.

The campaign is supported by former United States president Bill Clinton and world-renowned talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

By calling the telephone number, callers will hear messages from celebrities including Robert de Niro, Britney Spears, Pink, David Bowie and Beyonce.

During the International Aids Conference earlier this year, Mandela was reported to have said that "Aids is no longer a disease. It is a human rights issue."

"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 ravages of such deadly diseases as malaria. We must act now for the sake of the world." -- Sapa