Mapping Mandela

Summary:Whether it's China, Europe, Africa, North or South America, the great man's name is on restaurants, schools, roads, hospitals, neighborhoods, you name it. Tech lets you see where in the world is Nelson.

Mapping Mandela BBC.png
From snack bars to roads, schools and hospitals, he's everywhere. (For an interactive version, click link below).

Twenty-seven years in prison and he wasn't bitter. And he won his lifelong battle against South Africa's apartheid, rising as a symbol of hope, freedom and equality for the rest of the world as he became his country's first black president.

That's Nelson Mandela in two sentences. SmartPlanet's short-form The Bulletin blog isn't really the place to wax on further, so I won't.

But in honor of the great man, and in the spirit of celebrating technology, as SmartPlanet does, I thought I'd draw your attention to a nifty bit of data charting that the BBC has put together. The Beeb is running a map that attempts to show all the places in the world that have taken Mandela's name.

Whether it's China, Europe, Africa, North or South America, his moniker is on restaurants, schools, roads, hospitals, neighborhoods, you name it. Where in the world is Nelson? He's everywhere. 

The image at the top of this story is a still shot of the map. Unfortunately I can't reproduce its interactivity. But if you visit the BBC page directly (here's the link again) you can click away to find the dignified son of a Thembu nobleman on everything from the Mandela Mongolia restaurant in Qinghai Province, China, to the Mandela Children's Learning Village in Compton, Calif.

Twenty-seven years and not bitter. (I'm feeling a bit vinegary after about four weeks of our 
redesign here at SmartPlanet, which some of you might have noticed has been a bit rough. The techies are working on it, I'm told).  

An amazing man. Thank you Nelson. Map or no map, data or not, you will be remembered forever.

Image is a screen grab from the BBC

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter.

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