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Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1964, and was the 466th prisoner to arrive that year. The prison administration's scheme of numbering prisoners was to follow the sequence number of the prisoner (466 in his case), with the last two digits of the year (64). The number was imposed on him by the prison for over 25 years, until his release in 1990. "Prisoner 46664" continues to be used as a reverential title for him. Shortly before Joe Strummer's death, he and U2's Bono co-wrote the song "46664" for Mandela as part of the campaign against AIDS in Africa.
On 29 November 2003, an event called the 46664 Concert was held at Green Point Stadium, Cape Town. It was hosted by Mandela and its goal was to raise awareness of the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The following artists performed:
Following the concert, three live CDs and a DVD titled "46664: The Event" were released.
On 19 March 2005, another "annual" 46664 Concert was held at Fancourt Country Club and Golfing Estate, in George, South Africa with people like Katie Melua, Prime Circle, Annie Lennox, and Queen + Paul Rodgers. Will Smith was the host.
The first 46664 event to be staged in Europe took place from 29 April 2005 through to 1 May 2005 in Madrid, Spain. The concerts named "46664 Festival Madrid" focused on Spanish-speaking artists, as shown in the following list:
("Roots night", 29 April 2005)
("Pop night", 30 April 2005)
("Singer-songwriter's night", 1 May 2005)
The show started at 19:00 on 11 June 2005, and ended at about 01:15 the next day.
On 1 December 2007, International World AIDS Day, a third concert was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The concert was hosted at Ellis Park, with tens of thousands of people in attendance. Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Angelique Kidjo, Ludacris, Corinne Bailey Rae, Goo Goo Dolls, Razorlight, Prime Circle and Jamelia performed for Nelson Mandela on stage. The event was streamed live on iclips.net.
A concert celebrating Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday took place in London's Hyde Park on 27 June 2008.
Artists who performed at this special event included Jivan Gasparyan, Josh Groban, Zucchero, Queen + Paul Rodgers, Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, Jerry Dammers, Amy Winehouse, Amaral, Sugababes, Razorlight, Leona Lewis, Eddy Grant, Joan Baez and Jamelia. Will Smith opened the concert with his wife Jada Pinkett Smith. Smith later performed his song, "Switch". Quincy Jones also made an appearance introducing Leona Lewis. Other celebrities who made an appearance include Lewis Hamilton, Geri Halliwell and Peter Gabriel.
Joining them were South African and African artists Johnny Clegg, Sipho Mabuse, Loyiso, Vusi Mahlasela, the Soweto Gospel Choir, AIDS orphan choir The Children of Agape (the subject of the award winning film feature We Are Together), the legendary Papa Wemba, and Sudanese "war child" rapper Emmanuel Jal, amongst others.
A surprise guest, which was expected to be the Spice Girls, had been promised, but the girl group did not perform. Dame Shirley Bassey had been confirmed as a guest, but did not appear on advice from her doctors, following recent stomach surgery.