Spending Virtual Time in Mandela’s Prison Cell
With the world preparing to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday on Wednesday, 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 South Africa’s largest independent management consulting firm IQbusiness, have developed the virtual experience that takes users from his childhood to his triumph as the country’s first democratically-elected president. The journey, created in virtual reality, enables users to spend time in the VR replica of his prison cell on Robben Island, and stand among the hills of Mandela’s childhood.
Liliesleaf farm itself has strong historical ties. Situated in Johannesburg, the farm was not only the secret quarters of the ANC in the 1960s but also the site where prominent ANC leaders were arrested on 11 July 1963. The subsequent, infamous Rivonia Treason Trial signified a crushing blow to the struggle against apartheid. Fifty-five years later, Liliesleaf Farm is a museum and world-famous heritage site, but with the interactive VR experience, the viewer is transported to the Liliesleaf Farm of the 1960s.
“It has been a pleasure and honour to work on such a dynamic and creative project,” says Nicholas Wolpe, CEO of Liliesleaf. “It is our 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 initially be released on the Oculus Go, the ultra-affordable headset Created by Oculus. To provide broader access, it will be released for the Vive Focus and Pico headsets shortly after the centenary celebrations.
“With the launch of untethered and cost-effective devices like the Oculus Go, it allows us to take the experience to everybody. It was 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 they are,” said Adi Stephan, Head of Learning HP for IQbusiness.
The experience, titled “Walking in Mandela’s Footsteps”, will initially be released for $1.99 so that it is affordable.
“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.
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 ANC.