Following Sunday night’s Global Citizen Festival in South Africa, the anti-poverty initiative reportedly raised over $7 billion in commitments — seven times the group’s original projected goal of $1 billion.
According to an impact report on Global Citizen’s website, the concert won pledges from organizations such as the World Bank, Vodacom, Cisco and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, as well as the South African government. Commitments will be applied towards the United Nations’ “2030 Program,” which aims to end extreme poverty by that year.
The festival, typically held annually in Manhattan’s Central Park, was first established in 2012. A special one-off concert took place December 2nd in Johannesburg’s colossal First National Bank Stadium: Organized in conjunction with the House of Mandela museum, Global Citizen celebrated the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth with an explosive show, featuring performances by Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Femi Kuti, Eddie Vedder, Usher, Coldplay, Kacey Musgraves and many other artists.
Fans acquired tickets through a point system that quantifies acts of civic engagement, including signing petitions, tweeting and calling their local representatives. This effort resulted in a total of 5.6 million actions calling for better sanitation, support for people living with HIV/AIDS and gender equity. “These are some of the same issues I advocate for with my foundation,” Usher told Billboard on Thursday. The artist was joined onstage Sunday night by local DJ Black Coffee and the South African Indigenous Dance Academy. “You see how artists can fulfill their duty to give back,” he continued, “but also that there’s power in numbers.”
However, the international event came with unforeseen challenges. Across Twitter, concertgoers reported a rash of violence and muggings by armed assailants after the show, concentrated in the parking garage; many claimed the police were nowhere to be found. South African police minister Bheki Cele addressed the concerns at a press conference on Wednesday, stating that at least 50 cases of assault and armed robbery were reported. As of Wednesday night, at least 15 suspects have been apprehended.