Before an audience of nearly 100,000 people, this years’ Global Citizen Festival was hosted on Dec. 2 at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 100 birthday.
The majority of the audience was comprised of volunteers who were rewarded for their community service access to the performances by the likes of local superstars like Cassper and DJ Black Coffee, to internationally known acts including Usher, Pharrell Williams, as well as the night’s headliners, Beyonce and Jay Z.
Hosted by Soweto native Trevor Noah from The Daily Show, Global Citizen brought together its largest contingency of heads of state, dignitaries, a group of the world’s most talented artists and influencers, and thousands of global citizens to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela.
Global Citizen surpassed its goal for commitments of USD $1 billion by seven times, with commitments from the World Bank, Vodacom, PEPFAR, Cisco, the government of South Africa and not to mention co-hosts of Mandela 100, the Motsepe Foundation. These donations alone added $5.4 billion on top of projected new commitments.
Representing the U.S., members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus were Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, and Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama.
Leading the delegation, Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York announced that “in the spirit of Nelson Mandela, we pledge to keep working with our colleagues in Congress, across the country and across the aisle to make sure that every child in Africa and at home has the opportunity to thrive and grow in a safe and prosperous world.”
What follows is our roundup of additional moments that made the night special:
Who doesn’t love to see Usher dance? The American pop star donned an authentic South African crown with a two-piece white fitted suit; halfway through his song, the jacket came off.
Impressing the audience with the South African Gwara Gwara dance move, with a group of local dancers, Usher sent the crowd into a frenzy. While he only performed one song, he did join Pharrell Williams during his set for another song.
Usher was later joined onstage by Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins. There was so much screaming for Usher that no one actually heard what he was saying. However, as soon as Robbins spoke, the crowd quieted; Robbins announced announce his company’s commitment to ending extreme poverty by preparing 10 million people for jobs in the next five years.
Pharrell Williams entered the stage and made the crowd lose their minds with a compilation of all of his greatest collaborations, including “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” “Freedom” “Good Girl,” “Lucky” and “Feels.” The super-producer said he was so emotional because it meant so much to him to be here.
Earlier in the day, Pharrell made an appearance at the Adidas store in Sandton to surprise customers with a meet and greet to promote the release of his new Adidas collaboration. Williams finished his set with the mega-hit, “Happy,” with Usher and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin joining him on stage.
The excited crowd chanted, “We want more!”, not letting Williams leave the stage.
Ed Sheeran, who the world knows as the “Perfect” crooner, killed his set with a rap so masterfully delivered it was like a master emcee trying to prove a point. Surprisingly, South Africa loves him.
Veteran comic Dave Chappelle surprised Trevor Noah with an appearance onstage. Chappelle said, “The story of this country inspires me, gives me hope and gives me strength and we need more of that in America. Please pray for us.” Trevor joked, “Maybe we can get Dave to tweet, he hasn’t tweeted in like 10 years.”
Black Panther‘s Danai Gurrira mentioned that Wakanda is a fictional place while sporting a fabulously flowing yellow dress that blended perfectly when her chocolate skin tone. Gurrira was named an ambassador of the Women’s Empowerment Initiative created by Global Citizen. The crowd loved her.
The incomparable Naomi Campbell riled the Global Citizen crowd into a frenzy every time—with every wardrobe change—she entered the stage; the international supermodel said that South Africa is her second home. She coined a new word for South Africa: “Amandela.”
Oprah gave a moving but entirely too long speech; but who doesn’t love Oprah? South Africans certainly do and Nelson Mandela seemed to have loved her too. Oprah voices, “He was a king in every sense of the word.”
Wearing a long flowing yellow, speaking eloquently like only Oprah can do, all of a sudden her mic went dead right in the middle of her remembering when Nelson Mandela invited her to his home for ten days sharing every meal with her.
I’m sure someone lost their job that day.
Dave Chappelle introduces the night’s headliners, Beyonce and Jay-Z. Beyonce and Jay-Z hit the stage at 9:46 p.m. The two-hour set begins with the couple’s hit, ” ’03 Bonnie & Clyde.”
After the first of many wardrobe changes, a dancer wearing a braided wig is seated braiding another dancer’s hair when “Ape Sh*t” comes on. The crowd goes wild. Pharrell joins the Carters on stage to sing two of their collaborations together, including the “Dynasty: La Roc Familia” classic, “I Just Wanna Love You.” Once the pair sing, “I’m a Hustler, Baby,” the crowd again goes apesh*t.
There was a lot of hand-holding between with Beyonce and her music mogul husband. It feels like love. Beyonce also sings a new arrangement of “Halo,” featuring the Soweto Gospel and Mzansi Youth Choir.