Mandela’s cell key offered at auction to be returned to South Africa

This content was published on 07 January 2022 – 15:07

Johannesburg, Jan 7 (EFE) .- The key to the cell in which the historic South African president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on the island of Robben Island, which was going to be auctioned this month in New York, no it will be offered to the highest bidder and returned to South Africa, the southern country’s government said.

In a statement published today by local media, the South African Minister of Sport, Art and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, said that the Guernseys house has agreed to suspend the auction of the key, scheduled for this January 23.

“The key symbolizes the painful history of South Africa and at the same time represents the triumph of the human spirit over evil. This key is living proof of the long journey of South Africans to freedom and belongs to the people of South Africa. Therefore, it must legitimately return to the country “, stressed the minister.

“Guernseys has agreed to organize the return of the key to South Africa in consultation with the relevant South African authorities. Details of such arrangements will be made available to the public at an appropriate time,” added Mthethwa.

The New York-based auction house also agreed to stop the sale of other items that belonged to Mandela, so that South African authorities can determine if they are part of the national heritage.

The South African government had condemned the auction on December 24, following an information published by the British newspaper “Daily Mail” about the bid.

Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island, near Cape Town (southeast), in a cell whose key was offered to the highest bidder by his jailer, Christo Brand, who ended up becoming his friend.

The key, according to the British newspaper, could exceed one million pounds (about 1.2 million euros) in the bid.

Brand’s commercial representative, Andrew Russel, said at the time that Makaziwe Mandela, Mandela’s eldest daughter, contacted Brand to include the key in an item auction to help raise funds for Mandela’s memorial garden in her town. Qunu’s birthplace.

“That’s why Christo agreed to auction it off. He wanted to preserve his friend’s memory in this way,” he said.

The key has been, for the last three years, in an official world exhibition of Nelson Mandela, according to the representative of the ex-jailer.

The auction included, among others, gifts given to him by former US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, glasses from Mandela himself, and ceremonial pens he received from former US President George W. Bush and the UN.

Mandela (1918-2013), South Africa’s first black president, spent 27 years in prison for his fight against the segregationist “apartheid” regime imposed by the country’s white minority from 1948 to the early 1990s. EFE

jhb-pa / vh

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Mandela’s cell key offered at auction to be returned to South Africa