Nelson Mandela Foundation strikes deal with Google

Former South African president Nelson Mandela’s personal records and documents will be digitized and will be publicly available online.

This is after internet giant Google and Seardel, a local clothing and textile manufacturer, struck a deal with Nelson Mandela Foundation Center of Memory (NMFCM), foundation senior official confirmed. Under the deal, Google has invested 1.25-million U.S. dollars in the project, which aims to put Mandela’s information online while a 46664 clothing line will raise funds for the global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign.

According to the City of Johannesburg report issued on Thursday afternoon, the foundation said the grant would help to preserve and give unprecedented digital access to thousands of archival documents,photographs and audio-visual material about the life and times of Mandela.

“We are delighted that Google has come on board to help ensure that our Mandela Portal becomes a world-class source of accurate and reliable information about Madiba,” Head of NMFCM, Verne Harris said.

According to Harris the online multimedia archive will include Mandela’s letters and correspondence with family, comrades and friends, prison diaries as well as notes made during the Congress for a Democratic South African (Codesa), where negotiations to end apartheid were held.

More documents scripted by Mandela since the 1960s are being sought from private collectors and foreign governments.

Luke Mckend, the country manager for Google South Africa, said the grant would help to expand Mandela’s online archive and make it available to global audiences, especially scholars and researchers.

He said Google wanted to help bring the world’s historical heritage online, and the internet offered new ways to preserve and share this information.

“Our grant to the Nelson Mandela Center will facilitate new digital archives for South Africa’s past, giving the global public an unprecedented opportunity to engage with the history of some of the most extraordinary leaders of our time,” Mckend said, according to City of Johannesburg report.

According to the report Nelson Mandela foundation chief executive, Achmat Dangor, said Mandela’s information would be accessible to the general public unreservedly; however, he hoped people would not plagiaries it or use it for profit. Digitizing all of Mandela’s archives will take until 2012 to finish; thereafter, all information will be easily accessible.

“We hope they will be used for research and educational purposes,” said Dangor.

Google said it had also given a grant of the same size to the Desmond Tutu Peace Center in Cape Town, for the documentation and digitization of Tutu’s archives and an interactive digital learning center.

In the clothing partnership, branded clothing will carry the 46664 number and an outstretched hand. The apparel would not feature Mandela’s face as it was not to be used for commercial purposes, the foundation emphasized.

The clothing range would also not be modelled on something Mandela would wear.

The report says 46664 has expanded its focus from a global HIV/ AIDS awareness and prevention campaign into encompassing all areas of Mandela’s humanitarian legacy and confronting issues of social injustice.

Mandela’s prison number, 46664 was established in 2002 as an independent, not-for-profit organization.

Source – XINHUANEWS – By Ntandoyenkosi Ncube