About the project

Mandela27 is a cultural collaboration between the European Union and South Africa inspired by the iconic story of Nelson Mandela and the globally recognized Robben Island Museum.

`The project involves: - A physical display based upon the dimensions of Nelson Mandela's cell, housing cultural stories and works. - An interactive cultural map of Europe and South Africa. - A serious game depicting prison life on Robben Island. - A panoramic tour of key spots of Robben Island Maximum Security Prison.

The display based on Mandela's cell including the cultural stories will promote interest in the subject and the project across the EU. The cultural map and the cultural serious game will support the circulation of cultural and artistic works bringing these to tens of thousands of young people in a medium that they are familiar with.

Little is known in th e EU about cultural events in South Africa and little is known in South Africa about EU cultural events. However most people in both regions are aware of the Nelson Mandela story in Robben Island, which is the key link in promoting intercultural dialogue.

The project is a true collaboration with SA partners who are supplying content and building the cultural game. This is a new industry for SA which will allow the mobility of graphic artists, cultural experts and games designers across both regions to both expand the industry and promote culture amongst young people.

Most people are familiar with the story of Nelson Mandela and his incarceration in Robben Island. This project highlights the bleakness of Mandela's 27 years in prison contrasted with the rich, cultural heritage of SA and EU during this period.

This project aims to foster cooperation between EU and SA based on cultural exchange. To circulate cultural and heritage items through the display and the eCulture platform and to encourage growt h in cultural games through mobility of experts in cultural display, graphic and games design.

DIY Exhibition


The Mandela27 DIY Exhibition is a low-cost, easy-to-assemble display to be used in schools and other cultural institutions. The exhibit depicts a replica (with the exact floor span) of Nelson Mandela’s prison cell at Robben Island with exterior artwork showing the chronological progression from the inception of apartheid to the freedom of the people.

Institutions or organisations throughout the world wishing to house/display this exhibit will be able to download the DIY kit and documentation from our website from early 2014.

To date the DIY Exhibition has already been requested by BELvue Museum in Brussels, Belgium, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry, Great Britain and Robben Island Museum in Cape Town, South-Africa.


Young people from around the world should know who Nelson Mandela was and what his legacy meant to humanity, for this reason the Mandela27 project is of paramount importance. The Mandela27 DIY Exhibition is an essential tool to bring his story in an attractive and engaging way.

Youngsters will be introduced to the small cells, critical conditions and racist management within the walls of Robben Island as well als the struggle agains apartheid, powerlessness and riots outside the prison walls, in South Africa all over the world.


The Mandela27 DIY Exhibition will follow the dimensions of Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben island and can be constructed using cheap, standard wood and plywood. The interior will be bare except fo r the bedding material, a bench and a plate and cup that accompanied the prisoners in their cell. On the exterior, ten posters, containing drawings designed by students at North-West University, Vaal Triangle Campus can be mounted to the walls.

These sketches will follow a graphic novel style together and will tell the story of the struggle for democracy using valuable material from UWC-Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archives -which holds the Robben Island records and many of the records from organisations engaged in the struggle against apartheid.

These 10 posters will raise the following topics:

  • Introduction to Mandela27
  • Colonialism and slavery!
  • What is apartheid?
  • Defiance: & Soweto
  • Fight for democracy
  • Robben island
  • Mandela and the political prisoners
  • Don't entertain Apartheid!
  • How culture can influence change in society Culture, reconciliation and citizenship


The Mandela27 DIY Exhibition can be constructed by following downloadable building instructions. The 10 posters are be downloadable as well for builders of the DIY Exhibition with printing equipment. Those without printing equipment can order a set of posters from the Mandela27 teampartners in Europe and South Africa. A series of educational resources for teachers and pupils/students will follow the DIY Exhibition and are also downloadable here.


Download the free Mandela27 DIY Exhibition BUILDING INSTRUCTIONS here.

Download the free Mandela27 DIY Exhibition POSTERS in Afrikaans, English, IsiXhosa, and Italian..

Serious Game


The Serious Games Institute South Africa (SGI-SA) based at the North West University Vaal Triangle Campus created an interactive graphic novel showing what life for political prisoners was like at Robben Island Prison by making use of Games Based Learning principle. The serious game, in the form of a graphic novel dotted with interactive scenes, is primarily aimed at Generation Y from both Europe and South Africa. That is not to say that other generations will not find the graphic novel compelling.

South African students are creating the content/artwork based on actual events related to us by ex political prisoners in a way that will appeal to their peers while remaining sensitive to the reality that was Robben Island Prison.

Through discussion with the ex prisoners we have identified 5 recurring elements that will form the core content of the graphic novel. These include:

Download the game


Cultural Timeline

Discover 100 cultural events across Europe and South Africa that have led to change.

It's important to introduce today’s youth to the milestones of democracy. Therefore, 100 cultural highlights that contributed to political change have been added on to respective maps of Europe and South Africa.

Historical highlights include events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the freedom concerts that took place all over Europe and South Africa as well as the euphoria upon the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 and many other cultural milestones. Most people are aware of these events but younger people may not realize the global impact they make.

Click here to explore the Mandela27 Cultural Timeline

Mandela27 Cultural Timeline

360º Experience

Click here to view the 360º Experience

Mandela27 360º Experience


The Mandela27 project is a true collaboration. The partners involved have been working together and evolving the idea over 2 years.

The lead partner, Coventry University's Serious Games Institute is a centre of excellence in cultural games and applications. Elderberry has vast experience of learning through culture. The Vaal Triangle Campus of North West University in South Africa is trying to grow an industry in cultural games and have a strong connection with the UK.

Robben Island Museum is a world recognised UNESCO heritage site with a wealth of cultural artefacts and cultural learning. They will lend their expertise in sensitive cultural subjects to the EU.

Over the course the 2 year project, each partner country will host team meetings during which key plans and milestones will be created and reviewed. These meetings are also an opportunity for the team to briefly immerse themselves in cultural iconography of the host location, whether this be Robben Island prison, Shakespeare?s writing (an inspiration to Mandela), Swedish politics (instrumental in the fight against apartheid) or European Capital Brussels (home of the Cultural program).

Coventry University

Serious Games Institute

Robben Island Museum

Disruptive Media
Learning Lab

Elderberry AB

Creative Europe

Serious Games Institute
South Africa

North-West University



Coventry Innovation Village
Coventry University Technology Park
Cheetah Road Coventry

Mandela 27 - Copyright 2015
With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union
Mandela27 is part funded by EU Culture (now Creative Europe) under Strand 1.3.5: Cooperation Projects with Third Countries (2012)..