By Elton John
I have been travelling to Africa for many years to support the work conducted by the Elton John Aids Foundation, the charity I first established in 1992 to reduce the incidence of HIV/Aids worldwide.
While there, I have seen inspirational examples of human courage and fortitude, as we have helped fund projects across the continent to alleviate the impact of HIV and Aids and there have been wonderful examples of progress achieved.
Only this month the foundation, with the pharmaceutical company Mylan, pledged to donate $1m for the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Nigeria. It will provide women who have tested HIV-positive with treatment so as to be able to prevent their children being born with the virus.
My time in Africa, however, allowed me more than just to witness the important work the foundation undertakes. It also enabled me to grow to understand, and fall in love with, the natural splendour which helps make the continent so very special.
I regularly visit to wallow in the beauty of the landscape and to witness the animals that live there in their natural habitat. My favourite spot is in the shadow of the Drakensberg Mountains in Southern Africa, which I try to visit most years. That spot is how I can only imagine a Garden of Eden would be.
In the winter months you can see elephants, lions, buffalo, leopards and all the other great African fauna set against the dry, golden-brown winter bush. In the summer, the lush green foliage also brings with it migrant birds and the wonder of newborn animals.
There is little as magical as waiting in the bush as dawn rises and seeing the landscape take shape as the newly rising sun illuminates the day and reveals the elephant grazing, impalas bouncing between the trees and – when fortunate – a lion or other big cat gearing itself up for the hunt.
What I witnessed there and in other parts of Africa helped inspire me when I was asked to contribute songs to The Lion King. I wanted to try to capture the majesty of the African scenery and the animals that live within it so that people could feel what I do when I witness it first-hand, and therefore appreciate its emotional impact too. More....