Black Eyed Peas to Aid South Africans
05/26/2006 AT 12:00 PM EDT
The group – will.i.am, fergie, Apl.de.ap and Taboo – will spend Friday and Saturday visiting poverty-stricken townships outside Johannesburg, participating in workshops with children and meeting fans. On Sunday, they will play a benefit concert in the city.
The effort makes good on the band's vow to return to South Africa after visiting the country in 2004 to mark its first decade of democracy.
Peapod Foundation founder will.i.am, 31, told reporters that, when he saw shanty towns and witnessed extreme deprivation during his first visit, "That hurt me, that hit a nerve in my heart. That's when I said we need to come back to South Africa and do a show for the people who can't afford tickets."
On May 28, the Black Eyed Peas will perform for more than 30,000 in South Africa's largest city. Tickets are free because, said Fergie, 31, "If I inspire one child out there, I have done something."
The concert will raise money through a cell phone text-message campaign and a VIP afterparty. All proceeds will go to the South African non-profit Adopt-a-School Foundation.
Finally, on Monday, the band will meet former South African president Nelson Mandela.
Speaking at a press conference, Apl.de.ap, 31, who was born in the Philippines, said, "I was brought to America for better opportunities and a better future. I gained success, and we want to do the same thing that was given to me."
Added will.i.am, "Simply as celebrities you can't really achieve anything. We're really coming here not as celebrities but as people, and the thing we'd like to achieve is inspiration."