Google in a joint venture to immortalize Mandela’s life

Google last month in a joint venture with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory (NMCM) launched the new Nelson Mandela Digital Archive to bring records of the anti-apartheid leader’s life online.

The online archive, accessible via Archive.nelsonmandela.org, has more than 1,900 entries and offers an inclusive view of South Africa’s first black president’s life that include his correspondence with family, comrades and friends, and diaries written during his 27 years of imprisonment.

Steve Crossan, Director of the Google Cultural Institute said: “The Mandela Digital Archive Project shows how the Internet can help preserve historical heritage and make it available to the world.”

“It is invigorating to see our combined efforts become a reality,” added Verne Harris from the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

The archive will also include Mandela’s earliest-known photograph, rare images of his cell on Robben Island in the 1970s, notes he made while leading the negotiations that ended apartheid in South Africa and drafts of the manuscripts to his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom.”

The Archive is divided into different sections including Early Life, Prison Years, Presidential Years, Retirement, Books for Mandela, Young People, and My Moments with a Legend.

This is one of the many Google Digital Archive Projects around the world. Others include presenting thousands of works of art through the Art Project, showcasing the Dead Sea Scrolls and the digitization of the Yad Vashem Holocaust materials.

Mandela is regarded as an extraordinary African Statesman with a rich legacy. He became South Africa’s first black president in 1994 serving a single 5-year term that saw him step down. Presently, he is officially retired from limelight and last appeared in public in mid 2010.

Mandela launched his memory centre in 2004. The centre that serves as part of his charity foundations houses an archive and hosts events to promote justice and reconciliation across the globe.

Google had granted $1.25 million (R8.6 million) to the Johannesburg-based NMCM back in 2011.

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