Two of Nelson Mandela’s grandsons have set up a social network in honour of their grandfather.Mandela.is will reportedly allow its users, called citizens, to connect, share inspirational photos, stories and articles in an attempt to mirror the statesman’s positive impact on the world.
According to a report by press agency SAPA, the site is being built by the company behind Lady Gaga’s social network littlemonsters.com.
“It’s a social network around the inspiration my grandfather gave to the world,” said Ndaba Mandela. “People can share what Mandela inspired them to do, to give back to their communities.”
According to Ndaba, he and his cousin Kweku decided to launch the site so that they would have a chance to celebrate their grandfather while he was still alive. The 95-year-old global icon’s health has slipped over the past few months, with a recurring lung infection keeping him in hospital since early June.
“We only celebrate our icons, our leaders when they have passed away,” said Ndaba.
“We came together as a family and said ‘guys, let’s not wait until he is dead, let us start the celebration now (while) he is still moving, talking, communicating,’” said Ndaba.
The network is still in beta, having launched quietly a couple of months back, and currently has around 1 000 users.
“Rather than focus on Nelson Mandela’s singular achievements, our goal is to engage a global community in dialogue about the inspiring acts of those all around us,” the site states.
While the site’s aims may be noble, the Mandela grandsons do admit that it is a business first and foremost. “This is a business like any other business,” said Ndaba, though he insists the priority is “to create a platform that is credible, respectable and enjoyable by users.”
“It’s not about the money, but to make the people understand who is Nelson Mandela and give back to their communities,” he said.
That said, a portion of the revenues reportedly go to the non-profit Africa Rising Foundation, a project to promote the continent’s image through the arts.
The social network is just the latest in a series of online efforts to celebrate the South African leader affectionately known by his clan name Madiba. These range from the Google Cultural Institute helping to archive his life online to a Facebook group which promises that messages posted on it “will be published in a book that will be available for purchase” .