After more than a decade, Beyoncé and Jay-Z will finally perform in Africa again. The superstar couple will headline a tribute concert to Nelson Mandela in December. The concert was announced on July 9 in a video featuring Coldplay’s Chris Martin and the South African rapper Sho Madjozi.
On Dec. 2 in Johannesburg, the Carters will be joined by the Coldplay frontman, Pharrell Williams, and Ed Sheeran to celebrate the centenary of the anti-apartheid revolutionary and political leader’s birth. Nigerian chart toppers D’Banj, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage will also be on stage, along with the South African stars Casper Nyovest and Sho Madjozi. The festival will also bring Usher and Femi Kuti back to South Africa, and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Oprah Winfrey will deliver a keynote address honoring South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
It’s billed as a free concert, but there’s a catch: Fans will have to earn their tickets through deeds to alleviate poverty, in the spirit of Mandela. The organizers have not yet explained exactly what deeds will qualify, and how they’ll track them, but they say this information will be forthcoming. A portion of the tickets will also be for sale, according to the website. The concert is a part of the Global Citizen Festival, an initiative by an NGO with the same name that aims to eradicate poverty by 2030. Global Citizen is working with House of Mandela, and was spearheaded by Mandela’s grandson, Kweku Mandela, and the foundation of one of South Africa’s richest families, the Motsepes.
When Beyoncé and Jay-Z recently sang “Can’t believe we made it,” on their first joint album Everything is Love, they were talking about their marriage, but African fans may feel the same way when the couple finally appears together on an African stage. The two have largely left the continent’s cities off their tour schedule, including their current On The Run II tour.
Jay-Z last performed in Johannesburg in 2006. Beyoncé sang at a Mandela charity concert in 2004. Beyoncé has repeatedly looked to Africa for her artistic inspiration, but as her global status has escalated, performances on the continent have been rare. The singer performed in Lagos in 2006, in a concert that became a corruption scandal for former president Goodluck Jonathan. Her last appearance on the continent was in 2007 in Addis Ababa, to celebrate the year 2000 on the Coptic calendar.
There are strong arguments that it’s time to stop viewing performances in Africa as an act of altruism. But this charity gig will be welcomed by many African fans, happy to see the Carters back on the continent.