Sibongiseni Mkhize, CE of the Robben Island Museum, at the announcement on Thursday of the Mandela 27 project. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Sibongiseni Mkhize, CE of the Robben Island Museum, at the announcement on Thursday of the Mandela 27 project. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

THE launch next month of an interactive website showcasing Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison will signal the start of a larger international project honouring the former president, the Robben Island Museum said on Thursday.

A computer game about life on Robben Island, where Mr Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, will be ready by February next year and exhibitions will travel South Africa and Europe from May 2014.

The project, known as Mandela 27, is expected to cost about €400,000 and will be partly funded by the European Union culture programme. It is meant to highlight social and cultural events that influenced societal change in South Africa and Europe during Mr Mandela’s time in prison.

The project is the brainchild of the Robben Island Museum in collaboration with Coventry University in the UK, North West University, creative content developer Elderberry from Sweden and The Creative Stories from Belgium.

According to the museum, specially manufactured model prison cells containing multimedia exhibitions will tour the world. The three-dimensional visualisations of Mr Mandela’s Robben Island prison cell and other locations at the maximum-security prison would help tell the story of his incarceration, it said.

Also part of the project will be a "serious" educational or cultural video game and other advanced digital components. The game, which will also feature the prison cells of Robben Island, will be targeted at young people.

Project director Jacqueline Cawston, who is also programmes director at the Serious Games Institute at Coventry University, said a website would track events across South Africa and Europe on an interactive digital map, with users being exposed to European and South African art, theatre and music, including the songs of South Africa’s liberation — they will even be taught to toyi-toyi.

Planning for the project began in the middle of last year with work formally starting in November. The full project team assembled for the first time in Cape Town this week for a three-day workshop.

Robben Island Museum CE Sibongiseni Mkhize said on Thursday that the project would promote international dialogue and tell the story of the values Mr Mandela and his colleagues in prison held dear.