Gary Susman
July 03, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Nelson Mandela falls just a bit outside the MTV demographic; on July 18, he turns 85. That day, he’ll also be the subject of an MTV special, ”Meeting Mandela: A Staying Alive Special,” in which the former South African president will address young people from all over the world on such topics as HIV awareness and human rights issues in hotspots like Israel and Burma. Giving the show additional youth appeal will be host Beyoncé Knowles.

”Nelson Mandela is one of the most important figures in history, and I am incredibly excited to host this special on MTV to celebrate his extraordinary life,” Knowles said in a statement. ”I hope audiences around the world are touched by the young people who traveled so far to meet with Mr. Mandela to share their incredible stories of hope and compassion.”

For his part, Mandela said, ”Young people face so many difficult decisions to make in life today. It is important to talk openly about subjects like HIV/AIDS, war, political leadership, and religion so that young people can make informed decisions about these issues, and to understand that they have the most vital role to play in helping to shape the future. It has been a pleasure meeting the young people participating in MTV?s program because, ultimately, it is their lives and futures we are all celebrating.” He also said he thought Beyoncé was bootylicious. (No, not really.)

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