Thirty years ago, Madiba was returned back to the people after having been incarcerated for more than 27 years as he fought the apartheid rule. Millions of people around the world had campaigned for his release for decades, and were finally able to watch him walk out of Victor Verster Prison and give his first address at Cape Town city hall. The 11th of February is a symbol of the ‘long walk to freedom,’ and a testament of how Madiba paved a new path for hope.
To commemorate this day, The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Google Arts & Culture have collaborated to launch a digital project allowing everyone to be inspired by Madiba’s life and legacy at g.co/longwalktofreedom. As one of the first partners to launch on Google Arts & Culture in 2012, we showcase our joint commitment towards preserving Madiba’s legacy and sharing it online with everyone, everywhere. By harnessing the power of technology, we invite you to join Madiba's journey through over 1000 high resolution photographs and videos, over thirty digital stories and two virtual tours with Street View.
Nelson Mandela walks out of the gates of Victor Verster prison, 11 February 1990, photograph by Gideon Mendel / Courtesy of ARTCO Gallery, from the collection of the Nelson Mandela Foundation
The digital project brings together activists, leaders and people key to carrying on Madiba’s legacy through intimate stories and photographs. Listen to Verne Harris, Madiba’s personal archivist, narrate his memories of the day and why he thinks it’s crucial for the collective memory of South Africa. Even if you were born free in the 2000s, Zulaikha Patel, an activist for gender equality, argues there is still a long way to go. Listen to her being inspired by that day, and how it has fueled her passion for activism and human rights.
As you’re exploring Madiba's life and legacy and how he has influenced many people alive today, be sure to step into the Cape Town City Hall in VR. Take a few moments to reflect on where you are today, and what you want to create for the generations to come. As Madiba said “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela arriving at Cape Town City Hall, photograph by Gideon Mendel / Courtesy of ARTCO Gallery, from the collection of the Nelson Mandela Foundation
Posted by Sello Hatang, Chief Executive, The Nelson Mandela Foundation and Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, Google Policy Manager