Global Citizen Festival
Queen B takes centre stage in galaxy of stars
Soweto's World Cup stadium will be packed with screaming fans today - and Chiefs and Pirates are not even playing
Bey fever is set to hit levels of mass hysteria today as thousands of excited fans flock to Soweto's FNB stadium for the most star-studded concert SA has yet seen.
The purpose behind today's Global Citizen Festival is to end poverty and honour Nelson Mandela, but the focus has been firmly on the steady stream of international celebrities arriving this week.
Superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter - also known as Bey or Queen B to her legion of followers - and her rapper husband Jay-Z are headlining the festival.
Her dancers were spotted in some of Johannesburg's hottest clubs during the week.
Queen B was snapped arriving at Lanseria airport in Johannesburg on Thursday with the couple's three children, Blue Ivy and the twins Rumi and Sir Carter.
US media tycoon and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey will deliver today's keynote address. Trevor Noah will host the event along with supermodel Naomi Campbell, US comedian Dave Chappelle, US actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry, TV personality Bonang Matheba, actress Nomzamo Mbatha and radio presenter Anele Mdoda.
Also in the line-up are international pop stars Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Coldplay's Chris Martin, Nigerian musicians Femi Kuti, Tiwa Savage, Wizkid and D'banj, and South African performers Black Coffee, Cassper Nyovest and Sho Madjozi.
Yesterday, Williams visited the Adidas store in Sandton City, signing sneakers. He also took to Twitter to support the Global Citizen initiative.
"There are 264-million children out of school, denied the freedom that education affords them. Together we can #DemandEducation and #DefeatPoverty. Call on world leaders and #BeTheGeneration to make history," he tweeted.
Details of today's performance have been kept secret. The entire event has been cloaked in tight security.
But social media has been a frenzy of activity, with many celebrating the fact that they had scored free tickets. Others vented their frustration at having missed out. The stadium can hold 94,000.
Tickets ranged from R1,840 to R5,235 on Computicket. Many tickets were given away by Global Citizen organisers. Hopefuls had to go on to the Global Citizen website and pledge support for a cause by signing a petition or tweeting. Those who were most active were given free tickets.
Martin, the festival's curator, said on Friday that he had not expected so many people to respond.
"I don't know why thousands of people like to gather together and sing the same song, I know I love to do it," he said. "In this instance, the issues we're talking about are very serious and some of them are very upsetting. So to have this reward system of a ticket to a concert [is good].
On Friday, a private auction of Mandela memorabilia raised about R4m.
It was hosted by the House of Mandela, the Enhle Cares Foundation and the Africa Rising Foundation and was attended by Chappelle, Campbell, actresses Pearl Thusi, Terry Pheto and comedian David Kau.
On auction was a pewter cast of Mandela's hand and a 1kg coin commemorating his road to freedom. The main attraction was the original Black Panther mask signed by late comic-book writer Stan Lee. The mask is on silent auction and bidding closes on Thursday.
"We raised a lot of money, more than we expected. It's great that we get to do something positive that will make a real difference," said actress Enhle Mbali, who is the founder of the Enhle Cares Foundation.
Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans said the aim was to raise $1bn in pledges from heads of state in response to the petitions people signed and tweeted. He said this had been the biggest Global Citizen campaign to date.
"There is no reason that in a world of plenty that a child should die because of a lack of immunisation," he said.
The event is presented and hosted by the Motsepe Foundation in partnership with House of Mandela. Co-founder Precious Moloi-Motsepe said the foundation would make two announcements today on what the foundation would be pledging towards global goals.
Leaders set to address the crowd today include President Cyril Ramaphosa, Graça Machel and former deputy president and executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
There will be extensive road closures around the FNB Stadium all day, with the main concert due to begin at 2pm.
Parts of the concert will be broadcast live on DStv channel 199 and SABC1.