Global Citizen Festival heads to South Africa –A-listers on the line-up

09 July 2018 - 09:00 By Jessica Levitt
Fans at the Global Citizen Festival in New York in 2017.
Fans at the Global Citizen Festival in New York in 2017.
Image: Supplied

A host of big international stars and local celebrities will be performing at the Global Citizen Festival in Johannesburg in December to play their part in paying homage to Nelson Mandela and alleviate extreme poverty.  

But before you get out your coins, you’ll need to know that this isn’t your standard concert.

Global Citizen Festival is a free, ticketed concert that rallies politicians, musicians and global leaders to influence citizens on a global scale. So, no matter how thick your wallet, you have to earn tickets by taking “action” and each time you take action, you earn points. Those points will get you into the concert.

City Press on Sunday reported that Beyoncé would be just one of the big names taking part in the festival at the end of the year. Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans promised that the line-up is “the greatest that Global Citizen had ever put together.” The full list of names will be released at a press conference being held in Johannesburg on Monday morning.

And while Mzansi will be sure to celebrate the arrival of big stars, as well as having a strong African contingent taking part in the festival, Evans said the idea is to mobilise citizens that could influence policies.

"We’re not interested in doing just a really big rock concert because there are enough really big rock concerts around the world. At the heart of what we do is the belief that if we can mobilise a movement of a hundred million global citizens who use their collective influence to encourage governments to adopt policies, that would alleviate poverty.”

Evans, who was in South Africa in April with Coldplay’s Chris Martin, who is the curator of the festival, said that Nelson Mandela’s centenary was a big factor on deciding to host the festival in South Africa this year.

"We are deeply inspired by the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela and when Kweku (Mandela) approached us a few years ago and said 2018 would marking Nelson Mandela’s 100th anniversary, we knew it would be a historic moment.”

In fact, Kweku Mandela has been instrumental in bringing the festival to South Africa.  He said that the Mandela family did not want another concert celebrating an individual but rather wanted to find ways on how to take his grandfather’s legacy and apply it.

"One of the key things we are trying to galvanise is that sense of renewal and the excitement around getting involved and engaging with communities around issues that we can bring to an end, such as poverty.”

The concert sees global leaders make pledges to help alleviate extreme poverty.  Evans said government officials, business leaders and philanthropists make these donations and Global Citizen makes sure that it isn’t a case of “having your moment in the sun” but rather the commitments are tracked, with the reports made public on their website.

The combination of celebrities using their star power, global leaders publicly committing to make a difference and the youth gathering together is exactly the kind of daily activism that organisers are hoping to inspire.

"We know there is a large youth population who have the power to change the destiny of not just Africa, but the world. And it’s  how do we engage them to give them the opportunity to believe they can have a real impact. And give them an opportunity to take their ideas forward and participate in this daily activism," said Kweku.

Halala, Global Citizen. We’re ready.