Mandela's 1962 diary goes online as Wikimania hits Cape Town

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Nelson Mandela's personal diary from 1962 is now available online‚ thanks to a partnership between the Nelson Mandela Foundation and internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

The move is a nod to Madiba’s centennial celebration and an annual Wikimania conference under way in Cape Town.

As of this week the diary‚ featuring Madiba’s thoughts in his own handwriting‚ is available on Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource.

“We are very happy. The diary gives us a deep insight into Mandela’s day-to-day life in the 1960s‚” Wikimedia ZA president Douglas Scott said on Friday.

“We are in discussion [with the Nelson Mandela Foundation] to see if we can get more diary volumes.”

The first download consists of 87 files comprising one volume of handwritten notes.

As of this week the diary‚ featuring Madiba’s thoughts in his own handwriting‚ is available on Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource.

Mandela’s personal thoughts‚ in the form of many diaries and lengthy prison letters‚ have been painstakingly catalogued‚ providing a valuable historic resource. Many of his letters were written to family members and ANC colleagues.

Wikipedia aims to broaden public access to information and knowledge by providing a platform for sharing diverse viewpoints and material‚ including historical documents.

The Cape Town conference is looking at ways to increase diversity and accelerate knowledge-sharing. “We are a global community who believe in the power of knowledge‚” said Wikimedia executive director Katherine Maher.

Access to knowledge enabled people to participate in public life and better exercise their rights‚ she said‚ adding that Africa only contributed 1.3% of Wikipedia content edits.

“We see that as a tremendous opportunity because that number will only continue to grow‚” Maher said.

Wikipedia provides access to more than 46 million articles on various subjects across nearly 300 languages. The site is viewed more than 15 billion times each month‚ at an average 6‚000 views a second.

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