Google grants for Mandela, Tutu archives

10 March 2011

Internet search giant Google has announced grants of US$1.25-million (R8.6-million) each to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre to help digitise the archives of the two Nobel peace laureates and make them available to a global audience.

The grant to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, housed at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, will help to preserve and give unprecedented digital access to thousands of archival documents, photographs and audio-visual material about the life and times of Nelson Mandela.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is committed to documenting records about the life of one of the world’s greatest statesmen. Its objective is to use his legacy to foster meaningful dialogue and debate to promote social justice.

Google’s grant will assist in expanding the online Mandela archive and making it available to scholars and researchers in the future.

In addition to significant audio-visual materials, the online multimedia archive will include Mandela’s letters and correspondence with family, comrades and friends; his prison diaries; and notes he made while leading the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.

‘World-class source of information about Madiba’

“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,” Verne Harris, head of the Centre of Memory, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The grant to the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town will go towards the documentation and digitisation of Tutu’s archives, and an interactive digital learning centre.

“Google wants to help bring the world’s historical heritage online, and the internet offers new ways to preserve and share this information,” said Luke Mckend, country manager for Google South Africa.

The two grants “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”.

Bridging the digital divide

Google also announced three additional grants that will help many more people across South Africa and Africa access the internet:

  • The Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa was granted $750 000 for continued work to help South African universities with internet and information technology services.
  • The Nigeria ICT Forum was granted $500 000 to support efforts in improving access to internet infrastructure in tertiary education institutions in Nigeria.
  • The Network Startup Resource Center at the University of Oregon was granted $1 250 000 to enable more people in African countries to participate in and contribute to the global internet.
  • SAinfo reporter

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