LONDON, UK: The Sentebale Audi Concert rocked Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, for an audience of 3,000 guests. During the concert, which was attended by the charity’s Co-Founding Patrons, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Sussex and Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso, Sentebale youth advocates from southern Africa called for an end to HIV-related stigma.
Headlined by singer-songwriter Rita Ora, the concert was supported by a host of Western and African acts. VIP guests included Tom Hardy, Rosamund Pike, Gemma Arterton and James Norton.
Together with sponsors, Audi, Historic Royal Palaces – the independent charity which cares for Hampton Court Palace – and American Express, all came together to raise awareness of issues surrounding HIV and AIDS in southern Africa, and funds for Sentebale’s work in Lesotho and Botswana – two countries with the world’s second and third highest HIV infection rates.
Whilst efforts have intensified to address discrimination, stigma continues to endanger people living with the virus, and still prevents millions of young people from coming forward for testing and for prevention and treatment services.
Sentebale Chairman Johnny Hornby told the audience: “Our hope is that tonight we can raise awareness of the challenges being faced by young people affected by HIV in sub-Saharan Africa change the conversation surrounding the virus, and most importantly raise vital funds that will ensure these young people are supported and get the right start in life. Our ambition is to empower a generation to drive positive change, dispelling stigma in their communities, nationally and globally too.”
Andrew Doyle, Director of Audi UK, said: “We are incredibly proud to support Sentebale and the crucial work they do in southern Africa. The Sentebale Audi Concert was an outstanding evening of entertainment and the perfect platform to raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.”
Two of Sentebale’s Let Youth Lead advocates from Lesotho and Botswana, Rethabile Sereba and Sekgabo Seselamarumo, shared their experience during the event in a call to challenge the stigma of HIV. Sereba described how difficult her life became after disclosure due to stigma and told the audience how Sentebale contributed to making her a strong and brave woman today.
Sekgabo Seselamarumo said: “I want to give adolescents living with HIV hope and help them see that there is life beyond HIV and that they can be anything and everything they want to be despite being HIV positive through the different programs by Sentebale. They mustn’t limit themselves just because of HIV.”
As well as raising awareness and inspiring action with the hashtag #StopTheStigma, the charity asked the audience to donate texting STIGMA20 to 70191 to raise £20 to pay for a child living with HIV to attend a Saturday club in Botswana or Lesotho.
In a celebration of African and Western culture, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Rita Ora and Sentebale ambassador and spoken word artist, George the Poet (George Mpanga) performed to an audience of 3,000 people.
Other performers included INALA, the hit Zulu ballet created by Sisters Grimm and award-winning choreographer Mark Baldwin OBE, featuring current and former dancers from the Royal Ballet and Rambert, BBC Young dancer winner Nafisah Baba and music from the live West End shows featuring Soweto Gospel Choir.
Morena Leraba, a musician and shepherd from Lesotho, who fuses traditional Famo music with a lively mix of genres including rock, electronic music, reggae and hip-hop electrified the audience. Performers of the 2019 Commonwealth Ceremony and ITV’s 2018 Britain’s Got Talent finalists, B Positive bought the audience to its feet with the finale song This Is Me from the Greatest Showman.
Funds raised from this concert will enable Sentebale to continue providing care, education and critical psychosocial support to children and adolescents coming to terms with living with HIV in southern Africa.
Sentebale extended its thanks to title sponsor Audi, and to all their generous sponsors American Express, Justerini & Brooks and Laurent Perrier, as well as all the performers, Rita Ora, George the Poet, INALA, Morena Leraba and B Positive for making this a day to remember.