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Preserving our link in stone

posted 19 Aug 2009, 01:47 by myEdinburgh Admin
It's in our hands' to win the fight against HIV/AIDS. This is the  message that will be set in stone outside the City Chambers as Scots-born international singer, songwriter and activist Annie Lennox unveils a memorial to Edinburgh's lasting connection with Nelson Mandela.

The stone will bear the inscription of Mr Mandela's AIDS charity 46664, along with the engraved handprints of Ms Lennox, a UK ambassador of the charity, and those of Steven, a 15-year-old Edinburgh resident living with HIV. Annie now also fronts her own HIV awareness campaign - Sing, which aims to help the women and children affected by HIV and Aids.  Annie founded The SING Campaign, after meeting Mr Mandela for the first time, inspired by his passion for the cause and issues around HIV/Aids in Africa.

The former South African President was given the Freedom of the City of Edinburgh in 1997 and is one of only five people still living bestowed with the honour.

Councillor Jenny Dawe, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said:

"Nelson Mandela has represented world peace for decades and he's an inspiration to us all. That he now dedicates much of his time to the fight against HIV is further testament to his impassioned belief in the rights of people and we are happy to support the effort to raise awareness of the plight of the 40million people across the globe fighting HIV/AIDS. It's a great honour for Edinburgh to be blazing the trail for the rest of the UK as the first place in the country to launch the 46664 'It's in our hands' campaign.

"I'm delighted that Ms Lennox has been able to give her time to represent Mr Mandela and that Steven has lent his support to illustrate that while HIV/AIDS is a world issue that we all must be aware of, it also affects people closer to home."

Annie Lennox said:

"I think this is a wonderful opportunity to create a landmark site in
the heart of Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, where millions of
people visit from around the world. As well as honouring Nelson Mandela,
It gives the passer-by an opportunity to pause and reflect upon the
significance of the HIV Aids pandemic, which is devastating the lives of
millions people across the continent of Africa, and across the entire

David Johnson, Director of Waverley Care, the Scottish HIV charity supporting Steven and his family, said:

"Waverley Care is very proud to be associated with Mr Mandela's 46664 charity through Steven's involvement in this memorial stone. HIV is both a universal and a local issue and remains one of the biggest challenges facing our planet. We all have a responsibility to raise awareness of its effects and to challenge the stigma that still surrounds it."

46664 (we say four, double six, six four) was Nelson Mandela's prison number when he was imprisoned on Robben Island, off Cape Town in South Africa. He was jailed in 1964 for 27 years for leading the liberation movement against apartheid and for his impassioned stance on the rights of everyone to live in freedom. He was prisoner number 466, imprisoned in 1964. The Robben Island prisoners were never referred to by their names, but rather by their numbers and year of imprisonment – hence 46664 was Nelson Mandela's number.

The stone unveiling in the City Chambers quadrangle will be accompanied by music from the African Children’s Choir, which is performing at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Choir also performed with Ms Lennox at Nelson Mandela’s 46664 concert in South Africa in 2005. They will be officially welcomed to the City Chambers by the Lord Provost prior to the stone unveiling ceremony.

The stone will be unveiled outside the City Chambers on Wednesday 19 August 2009. It stone lies across the quadrangle from the engraved handprints of Ian Rankin and JK Rowling, recipients of the Edinburgh Award.