Nelson Mandela: Google Doodle celebrates 96th birthday of former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary

Nelson Mandela given illustration on Google's homepage to mark 96 years since his birth

It is 96 years ago today that Nelson Mandela was born; a revolutionary who would become the face of magnanimity, wisdom, and resistance to injustice, as well as “father of the nation” to South Africa.

Google is celebrating the anniversary of Mandela’s birth with an interactive Doodle. Starting with an illustration of the former leader, visitors to the site can click through a number of his most well-known quotes, coupled with illustrations depicting stages of his 'Long Walk to Freedom'.

Google Doodler Katy Wu said she at first thought she would have to make a very serious, sombre kind of Doodle about such an important figure. However, as she learnt more about Mandela, Wu says she started to understand that he was a man with a lot of character, a realisation that gave her fresh ideas for the tribute. On the choice to incorporate his quotes, she says: “Something that stood out to me about Nelson Mandela was his eloquent way with words.  I thought his words gave a great insight into the kind of man he was, so I wanted to focus the creative direction of the doodle on his quotes against a backdrop of the history of South Africa.”

The Doodle shows the village where Mandela grew up, and follows his journey through his incarceration to his election as the first black president of South Africa in 1994.

 

During his time in prison, Mandela studied law and learnt Afrikaans, in order to be able to speak with the men who were guarding him. Google’s illustration of Mandela’s imprisonment on Robben Island shows him reading, accompanied by the quote: “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world”.

Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, Mandela became a member of the African National Congress in his twenties, and later became its president. As a result of his work with the ANC, he spent 27 years in prison, charged with convictions of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the state.

Video: Remembering the life of Nelson Mandela

In 1980, the slogan “Free Mandela!” began to spread, leading the UN Security Council to call for his release. However, South Africa’s cold war allies, including Margaret Thatcher, viewed Mandela as a communist terrorist and opposed his release. It wasn't until 2008 that ANC members were officially removed from the US terrorism watch list.

Mandela was finally released following the fall of the Berlin wall, and became an important player in the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid.  He died last year, on 5 December, after suffering from a pulmonary infection.

Another of his famous quotes woven into today’s Doodle is: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

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