Google brings Steve Biko’s life, apartheid, holocaust online

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This is very cool. Google is today bringing 42 historical exhibitions online telling the stories behind some of the major events of the last century. Among them is one telling the story of South African apartheid activist Steve Biko’s political awakening as a 15-year-old.

According to Google, the exhibition features “nine online documents never released in the public domain, including his 1973 banning order and his Black People’s Convention membership card”.

Obenewa Amponsah, Director of Fundraising and Partnerships at the Steve Biko Foundation, said:

The Steve Biko Foundation is pleased to partner with Google on this initiative. We decided to participate because bringing this material online through the Cultural Institute provides a great opportunity to make known not only the legacy of Steve Biko — but so many other historic figures and events — in a dynamic and accessible way.

There are a couple of other apartheid-era exhibitions, including updates to the Nelson Mandela archive, and one detailing events from the era, including the Sharpeville massacre, Soweto riots, 1913 Land Act, heads of government, women’s anti-pass march, 1994 elections, the Treason Trial and a collection of apartheid signs.

David Larsen, Managing Director of Africa Media Online said:

It has been a pleasure to partner with Google to bring the rich collections represented by Africa Media Online to the general public both within Africa and around the world. Over the years we have worked hard to digitize significant holdings of many South African museums, archives and private collections. We are impressed by the way in which the collections are showcased on the Google Cultural Institute online system and we are excited by the potential increase in web traffic to the collections we represent, which at the end of the day, contributes toward the sustaining of those collections.

The people and events commemorated in the other exhibitions include:

  • Jan Karski, Humanity’s hero — first hand video testimony from the man who convinced the allies about the existence of the Holocaust
  • Tragic love at Auschwitz — the story of Edek & Mala, a couple in love who escaped Auschwitz
  • Years of the Dolce Vita — this collection looks at the era of the ‘good life’ in Italy including the fashion, food, cars and culture
  • D-Day — details of the famous landings including colour photographs, personal letters and the D-Day order itself from Admiral Ramsay
  • The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II — an account of the 1953 Coronation including colour photos

These exhibitions are the latest chapter in the work of the Google Cultural Institute, following the Art Project — which allows people discover paintings, sculpture, street art and photographs from 151 museums in 40 countries — and World Wonders. All of them allow people to zoom in to see photos in great detail and search through pages and pages of content to find what they’re looking for.

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