The key is part of Nelson Mandela’s memorabilia put up for sale by the Guernsey auction house in New York City on January 28. Most of the items were provided by family members of Nelson Mandela to raise funds for the establishment of a museum and a garden around his grave. The key comes from Nelson Mandela’s former jailer who became his friend.
It is incomprehensible for Guernsey, which is clearly aware of our country’s painful history and the symbolism of the key, to consider selling the key at auction without any consultation with the South African government, heritage authorities in Africa. South and Robben Island Museum Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement.
This key belongs to the South African people in the custody of the Robben Island Museum and the South African State. It is not the personal property of anyone , said Nathi Mthethwa.
For the construction of a museum
In response, the auction house said the proceeds from the sale will be used to raise funds to build a 24-acre memorial garden and museum around Nelson Mandela’s burial site.
The eldest daughter of the former president, Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah, approached Guernsey to organize an auction of her father’s memorabilia to build the garden, told theAssociated Press Arlan Ettinger, President of Guernsey.
We are honored to sell many of the Mandela family items to help them create the garden, said Arlan Ettinger. The 33 items up for auction include one of Nelson Mandela’s colorful shirts, gifts from former US Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as well as signed items and illustrations.
The key to his old prison cell is one of three items offered for sale by Christo Brand, Mandela’s jailer on Robben Island.
A South African draft constitution that Nelson Mandela wrote to Christo Brand and a stationary bicycle used by Nelson Mandela were also provided for auction by the former jailer. A representative for Christo Brand could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The sale approved by Mandela’s daughter
The key has been in Christo Brand’s possession for many years and has been on display in various locations around the world, said Arlan Ettinger. Nelson Mandela’s daughter has approved its sale and part of the proceeds will go to the bottom of the garden, he said.
The key symbolizes the worst and the best of mankind , said Arlan Ettinger.
” The key locked up Mr. Mandela for his opposition to racial oppression and it was horrible. The key also freed him. He went from prisoner to president of South Africa and became an inspiration to millions of people around the world. It seems fitting that the sale of the key can now help raise funds to create a memorial around Mr Mandela’s burial site. “
Culture minister Nati Mthethwa said he would take action to stop the auction of the key.
The key must be returned to its rightful owners with immediate effect and this auction must be discontinued., said the minister who added that he was discussing with the authorities
appropriate steps that need to be taken to stop the auction and secure the return of the key to South Africa.