Queen Latifah

AMERICAN rapper and actor Common and actress Queen Latifah, will headline the Keep the Promise rally and concert as part of the 21st International Aids Conference set to take place in Durban next month.

Other guests who will attend the conference include Charlize Theron, Prince Harry of Wales, and Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau in the Netherlands.

The conference will be held from July 8 to 22 , coinciding with Nelson Mandela’s birthday and the concert is a build-up to the event.

Common and Queen Latifah were invited by non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation to use their celebrity and their personal interest to help raise awareness about the global fight against HIV/Aids.

In an email interview with sister title Sunday Tribune Queen Latifah said she was looking forward to visiting Africa for the first time.

“I am so excited to be visiting Africa for the first time – especially South Africa. I’m looking forward to being able to experience the people and the culture in the short time that I’m there. We’re all going to be celebrating for a great cause and the energy is going to be great,” she said.

The actress, whose real name is Dana Owens, said being part of the campaign to raise awareness about HIV/Aids reminded her of a character she played in 2006.

“Back in 2006, I played the role of a woman that was diagnosed with HIV in the movie Life Support. Having to immerse myself in my role, I really got the opportunity to understand how HIV/Aids can change a person’s entire life. It is an issue that truly cannot be ignored, especially because it is a disease that everyone is susceptible to,” said Latifah.

Latifah said she would love to explore Durban.

“I hope I get time to visit the Durban beaches. I was told I can’t miss the bunny chow. I think there is no better way to experience a country than by trying the local food,” she said.

Rapper Common, real name Lonnie Lynn, said his family had been affected by HIV and Aids.

“My uncle Charles passed away of Aids. He was someone I was really close to that had been affected by this ugly disease. I believe it is important that we help to end HIV/ Aids and the spread of that disease. Resolve the spread of the disease so people can live a healthy beautiful life,” said Common.

He said he was anticipating eating Durban’s delicious food and learning about Zulu culture.

“I am looking forward to interacting with the people and experiencing the luxury of the beautiful coastal city Durban is. I would love to try some really good fish in South Africa. Great fish is what I’m looking forward to,” he said.

On what he knows about KwaZulu-Natal, he said: “I know that Shaka Zulu once ruled the surrounding lands. I’m looking forward to being a part of the culture, and checking out what impact any of his legacy has left. Also interacting with the people and how they receive the music. I’m looking forward to the new experience of what South Africa will be for me”.

Keep the Promise, also known as KTP2016, is an advocacy platform for those with and fighting against HIV/AidsS. It lobbies for increased Aids funding by urging governments and global donors to commit to ending the epidemic.

Dr Yogan Pillay, the deputy director of HIV and Aids unit in the Department of Health, said: “There are a large number of scientists, researchers, academics and International celebrities who will be coming but they have asked not to be announced before they arrive because they are coming for a good cause.

Queen Latifah arrives in Durban next month to participate in the Keep the Promise concert.