Nelson Mandela Foundation

Being an archivist in the era of disinformation, misinformation and fake news, I believe that my work plays a crucial role in advocating and teaching about the value and importance of archives as a significant resource for finding proof, gathering research data, explaining and justifying past actions as well as current decisions. This article is written in commemoration of the Global Media and Information Literacy (MIL) week, 24 to 31 October, with the theme: “Nurturing Trust: A Media and Information Literacy Imperative”. Global MIL week was initiated in 2012 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and its partners.

We can never shy away from the fact that media and information literacy provides us with skills and knowledge to understand how information is created and disseminated. The more we are media literate, the more we are able to critically assess information, news and all other forms of media.

In the past year, the legacy of Madiba was doubted when South African social media was blazing with allegations and conspiracy theories that the real Madiba died in 1985 when he was 67 years old. These allegations continued claiming that South Africans perform 67 minutes of charity to pay respect to the real Madiba, and that the apartheid government installed an impersonator named Gibson Makanda to play Madiba. Moreover, the allegations claimed that Gibson was the man who negotiated the end of Apartheid and would be the first South African democratic president.

The spread of fake news has created challenges in our society. As a result, the Nelson Mandela Foundation created a repository of digital archives to which everyone has access. In commemoration of Global Media and Literacy week, the Nelson Mandela Foundation encourages South Africans, particularly youth and students to cut through the noise and access the most reliable information sources about Madiba here and learn the facts about his life and times.

On 11 February 2022, the Foundation launched the Archive at the Centre of Memory (ACoM) because we saw a pressing need to explain and demonstrate to students, researchers, and the general public where to find Madiba’s archive and how to navigate the Foundation’s Access to Memory (AtoM) archival system to access this archive. In the era of unreliable information sources and deliberate misinformation, the archivists at the Nelson Mandela Foundation aim at giving the youth, students, researchers and everyone confidence that by using ACoM their research and explorations are starting from a trusted source.