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Mandela concert hails legend's life

  • Story Highlights
  • Celebrities, statesmen gather in London to celebrate Mandela's 90th birthday
  • Mandela to attend an outdoor concert in his honor in London's Hyde Park
  • Will meet UK PM Gordon Brown, ex U.S. President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Nelson Mandela, the indomitable anti-apartheid campaigner who emerged from decades of imprisonment to lead his country into a new era, will this week be joined audience of thousands and a star-studded guest list to mark his 90th birthday.

Statesmen, royalty, major figures from the worlds of business, sport and entertainment will gather in London to honor the achievements of Mandela, who despite retiring from public life five years ago, has never left the public eye.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, film stars Robert de Niro, Will Smith and Forest Whittaker and TV presenter Oprah Winfrey are among those attending celebrations that will climax with the three-hour concert on June 27.

To mark the occasion, CNN has produced a package of feaures looking at the man behind the legend.

Exclusive interviews with his wife Graca Machel, his grandchildren and those who shared his journey through prison and presidency are accompanied by photo galleries, profiles and interactive features on CNN.com.

CNN will also have behind the scenes coverage of the Hyde Park concert, featuring some of the biggest names in music -- among them Annie Lennox, Simple Minds, Queen, Leona Lewis and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Friday's event also marks the 20 year anniversary of the Free Mandela concert -- featuring some of the same artists -- that was held in London to demand his release from prison.

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Proceeds from Friday's concert will go to the 46664 charity, the AIDS campaign named after the number Mandela wore while imprisoned by South Africa's apartheid authorities.

He was released in 1990 after 27 years behind bars, and was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994.

According to 46664, Friday's concert will see Mandela officially bow out of campaigning for the charitable causes that he has championed since he left public office.

"You all know that I am supposed to be retired, but my friends and the charitable organizations that bear my name want to use my 90th birthday year to raise funds to continue our work and so of course I want to help them," Mandela said in a statement released by 46664.

"So we have a bargain -- I am going to London and they will host a concert in Hyde Park, which will raise awareness of our continuing work and much needed funds."

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