"Let every child be a healthy child," Mandela told a crowd of almost 18,000 at a benefit concert held Saturday under the midnight sun in Norway's Arctic. "We know what to do and how much it will cost. We now need leadership, vision and political courage."
The 46664 Arctic Concert, named for Mandela's prisoner number during his 27 years in South African detention, is part of a series of AIDS charity concerts. It has drawn such stars as Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Robert Plant, Brian May, Angelique Kidjo and the group Razorlight.
Since stepping down as South African president in 1999, Mandela — whose own son died of an AIDS-related illness in January — has campaigned to raise awareness about AIDS, especially in Africa where about 25 million of the world's 40 million HIV-infected people live.
"Many years ago, I said that my long walk has not yet ended," said Mandela, 86. "As we stand here tonight, I gain great comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone on this journey."
In introducing Mandela, Gabriel, who rose to fame with the group Genesis, said to cheers, "If the world only had one father, it would be him."
Lennox said she was honored to be part of an effort to counter such a terrible worldwide problem.
"This concerns every part of our world," said Lennox, the lead singer of the 1980s band the Eurythmics. "Music is a huge, powerful, positive force that can bring people together."
Despite being 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsoe's streets were packed with people enjoying round-the-clock sunshine and stunning scenery that includes snowcapped mountains that seem to burst from the sea.