South Africa’s government is set to challenge the auctioning of 75 artefacts belonging to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela. The items, including Mandela’s iconic Ray-Ban sunglasses and personal letters, are scheduled for auction on February 22 by New York-based Guernsey’s in collaboration with Mandela’s family.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
The South African Ministry of Culture has filed an appeal to prevent the “unpermitted export” of these historically significant items. “Former president Nelson Mandela is integral to South Africa’s heritage,” stated Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa, emphasizing the importance of preserving Mandela’s life’s work and experiences within the country for future generations. Mandela passed away in 2013.
The auction, approved by the North Gauteng High Court, has sparked debates in South Africa, with critics viewing it as a contentious sale of the nation’s cultural heritage. On its website, Guernsey’s describes the auction as “nothing short of remarkable,” and proceeds will reportedly be used for building the Mandela Memorial Garden in Qunu, the village where he is buried.
In an interview with US media, Makaziwe Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s daughter, expressed her desire for people worldwide to possess a piece of her father’s legacy. She highlighted his wish for the former Transkei region, where he was born and raised, to benefit economically from tourism. Reports of the auction coincide with the broader movement across African countries seeking the return of treasured artworks and artefacts removed during colonial years.