Nigerian musician Wiz Kid and American Usher today opened the Global Citizen Mandela 100, a special edition of this solidarity festival held in Johannesburg for the centenary of the late South African president and where Beyoncé or Ed Sheeran will also perform.
With the South African comedian and presenter Trevor Noah as master of ceremony and despite a small storm, the thousands of people gathered at the FNB Stadium -the same venue that hosted the 2010 World Cup final- danced from the first song of the day, by Wiz Kid.
"Everyone is here to celebrate the birth of Nelson Mandela!" He shouted, amid cheers from the crowd, the presenter of The Daily Show.
But if something made the audience vibrate was the departure of Usher on stage, dressed in white and surrounded by dancers to play an "Africanized" version of his single "Without You".
The American retired after that one song, but is expected to return to the stage later, although the exact program remains a surprise.
Just before these first two official performances, the Gospel Choir of Soweto (the historic black ghetto district of Johannesburg) had a brief intervention to sing the hymn of South Africa, among other songs.
And Chris Martin – singer of Coldplay and one of the organizers of Global Citizen – had a few words of thanks to the audience.
The venue has a capacity of 95,000 people but at the opening of the festival it was not yet full, given that most of the major performances are concentrated in the last hours.
Those interested in attending this festival could not buy their tickets with money.
To get hold of them, points had to be obtained through actions to raise awareness and fight against global problems such as poverty, climate change or the fight against AIDS.
The organization calculates that, since the campaign began last July, some 5 million solidarity actions were carried out, mostly in South Africa and its neighboring countries.
The headliners of this Global Citizen Mandela 100 also include Jay Z, Pharrell Williams, Eddie Vedder (leader of the band Pearl Jam) or the South African DJ Black Coffee.
The family of Nelson Mandela is already present and other outstanding figures, such as the American presenter Oprah Winfrey or the ex-model Naomi Campbell, will also have interventions.
The festival will include African heads of state such as Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), and representatives of European governments such as the Belgian or Norwegian.
Likewise, leaders of various international organizations confirmed their attendance, such as the Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Amina J. Mohammed, or the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim.
The Global Citizen festival is held annually in New York with the eradication of poverty as a goal and first-rate musical performances.
This special edition in Johannesburg commemorates the centenary of the most famous of the heroes of the fight against racial segregation in South Africa, who would have turned 100 on July 18.
Nelson Mandela was also the first president of South African democracy (1994-1999), received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 – shared with former President Frederik de Klerk, his predecessor in office – and next December 5 will be fulfilled 5 years of his death.