Google Doodles Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom

18 Jul 2014

The opening panel of the Nelson Mandela featured on on 18 July 2014

Google marks Nelson Mandela Day with a Doodle celebrating what would have been the former South African president’s 96th birthday.

Today, 18 July, is the first Nelson Mandela Day to be celebrated since the anti-apartheid revolutionary’s death on 5 December 2013. The occasion, which the UN General Assembly approved in 2009, is a time to celebrate the idea that each individual has the power to make a difference in the world.

Mandela embodied this spirit himself. Born in 1918, his ‘long walk to freedom’ is illustrated in a click-through animation on Google’s homepage.

Each panel depicts a phase in Mandela’s life, from growing up in a rural village to being elected the first black president of South Africa in 1994, accompanied by some of his most famous and powerful quotes. These beautiful illustrations have been created by Doodler Katy Wu, who was keen to not only depict the Nobel Peace Prize-winner’s journey but also to bring life to Mandela’s eloquent and insightful words.


Nelson Mandela Google Doodle

For example, the animated Doodle covers the 27 years Mandela spent as a prisoner on Robben Island, during which time he studied law and learned to speak Afrikaans. This simple scene of a solitary prisoner reading a book by the light of a barred window is coupled with the quote: “Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.”

Following his release from prison, Mandela played a significant role in the end of apartheid in South Africa and, to this day, is often referred to as the ‘father of the nation’ by its people.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.