South African Minister Opposes Sale of Mandela’s Camera Key | AP News

JOHANNESBURG ( Associated Press). On Friday, the South African cabinet minister called for the cancellation of an upcoming US auction to sell the keys to a prison cell on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president, was long jailed for his opposition to apartheid.

The key is among the Mandela memorabilia sold. Guernsey auction house in New York on January 28. Most of the items were donated by members of the Mandela family to raise funds for the planned museum and garden around his tomb, and the key is sold by Mandela’s former jailer who has become 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 by auction without any consultation with the South African government, the South African inheritance authorities and the Robben Island Museum.” “This is stated in the statement of the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Natha Mtkhetva.

“This key belongs to the people of South Africa under the tutelage of the Robben Island and South African State Museum. This is not someone’s personal identity, ”Mtetwa said.

In response, the auction house announced that the proceeds from the sale would be used to raise funds for the construction of a 24-acre memorial garden and museum around Mandela’s burial site. Mandela’s eldest daughter, Makazive Mandela-Amua, has asked Guernsey to hold an auction of Mandela memorabilia to help build the garden, Guernsey President Arlan Oettinger told The Associated Press.

“We are honored to sell many of the Mandela family items to help them create the garden,” Oettinger said. The 33 items to be auctioned include one of Mandela’s colorful shirts, gifts from former US Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as well as signed items and art.

The key to his former prison cell is one of three items for sale by Christo Brand, Mandela’s jailer from Robben Island.

The draft South African constitution that Mandela wrote for Brand and the exercise bike that Mandela used were also submitted by Brand for auction. A representative of the brand could not be reached for comment on Friday.

According to Ettinger, the key has been in Brand’s possession for many years and has been exhibited at international exhibitions. According to him, Mandela’s daughter approved the sale, and part of the proceeds will go to the garden fund.

“The key symbolizes the worst and the best in humanity,” Oettinger said. “The key locked Mr. Mandela for his opposition to racial oppression, and it was terrible. The key also set him free, and he went from a prisoner to the president of South Africa and became a source of inspiration for millions of people around the world. It seems appropriate that the sale of the key could now help raise funds for a memorial around Mr. Mandela’s grave. ”

Culture Minister Mtetwa said he would take action to stop the key auction.

“The key must be immediately returned to its rightful owners and this auction must be stopped,” Mtetwa said, adding that he is discussing with the authorities “the appropriate steps to be taken to stop the auction and ensure that the key is returned. to South Africa “.

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