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Spending Virtual Time in Mandela’s Prison Cell, A Teaching Moment for the World

Nelson Mandela B&W

Johannesburg — With the world preparing to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday on July 18th, a new virtual reality experience will allow viewers all over the world to walk in Mandela’s footsteps.

Liliesleaf, a South African heritage site, in collaboration with VictoryVR and IQbusiness, have developed the virtual experience that takes users from his childhood to his triumph as South Africa’s first democratically elected president. The journey, created in virtual reality, enables users to spend time in the VR replica of the prison cell on Robben Island, and stand among the hills of Mandela’s childhood.

Liliesleaf HutLiliesleaf itself has strong historical ties. Situated in northern Johannesburg, South Africa, the Liliesleaf was not only the secret headquarters of the African National Congress, Congress Alliance activists in the early 1960s, but is also the site where prominent African National Congress leaders were arrested on July 11, 1963.  The subsequent famous Rivonia Trial signified a crushing blow to the struggle against apartheid. Fifty-five years later, Liliesleaf is a museum and world-famous heritage site, but with the interactive VR experience, the viewer is taken back to the Liliesleaf of the 1960s.

“It has been a real pleasure and honour to work on such a dynamic, creative and erstwhile project,” said Nicholas Wolpe, CEO of Liliesleaf. “It is our best hope that this experience gives users the chance to better understand the foundations of Nelson Mandela’s life and the struggle for liberation he undertook.”

The experience will be initially released on the Oculus Go on or around July 18th. To give a broader population of people access, it will be released for the Vive Focus and Pico headsets shortly after the 100th birthday celebration.

“I’m excited that VictoryVR will have a chance to expose students around the world to the life of one of the great liberators of our time. It’s amazing that inside VR, I can sit where Mandela sat, and hold the items he held,” said Steve Grubbs, CEO of VictoryVR.

“With the launch of untethered and cost effective devices like the Oculus Go, it allows us to take the experience to everybody. It was an amazing to create the experience, and I hope that the users will be equally amazed and find themselves fully immersed in the virtual life of Madiba wherever you are” said Adi Stephan, head of learning for IQbusiness.

The experience, titled ‘Walking in Mandela’s Footsteps’ will initially be released for $1.99 so that it is affordable.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale will go to support the efforts at Liliesleaf to continue their mission of preserving the history of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress  and his and the ANC’s life long struggle for freedom, justice and equality, which today still remain universal aspirations and desires.

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