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Stars in New York honour Mandela with birthday bash
Dozens of big-name performers and actors gathered at a major charity concert in New York late on Saturday to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Dozens of big-name performers and actors gathered at a major charity concert in New York late on Saturday to pay tribute to iconic anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela on his 91st birthday.

Gloria Gaynor kicked off the gala at the majestic Radio City Music Hall, in the heart of Manhattan, with a rousing performance of her 1978 disco hit I Will Survive.

Celebrities on the performance list included Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and the First Lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, as well as Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean, Lil' Kim, Gloria Gaynor, the Soweto Gospel Choir and African artists Angelique Kidjo, Baaba Maal and Sipho Mabuse.

Hollywood stars that support the Mandela Foundation charity at the event included actors Forest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg, and Matt Damon.

The Mandela Day gala crowns a week of celebrations honouring the legendary rights activist.

But the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner, whose health is increasingly fragile, spent the day at his Houghton, Johannesburg, home with friends and relatives.

Organisers hope that Mandela Day will become an event observed around the world paying tribute to the South African leader's accomplishments.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid homage to Mandela late on Friday, describing him as "a living embodiment of the highest values of the United Nations".

The Mandela Day campaign is organised by several charitable organisations under the collective name 46664 -- Mandela's prison number.

The model-turned-singer Bruni-Sarkozy, who said she would stop performing publicly after marrying French President Nicolas Sarkozy, agreed to sing on Saturday because the groups organising the gala carry out HIV/Aids-prevention work.

Bruni-Sarkozy's brother died of the syndrome, and she is an ambassador for international funds fighting HIV/Aids. - AFP