A month ago the sale in New York was blocked by the South African government: “A symbol of the struggle against apartheid.” Now new details are appearing on the affair
Who wanted to sell the key of Nelson Mandela’s cell? The auction was to be held on January 28 in New York. A month ago came the stop of the South African Minister of Culture, who had announced: “The key symbol of the fight against apartheid will return home.” Along with other “minor” memorabilia: an exercise bike used in the last period of captivity, one of his famous colored shirts, an old tennis racket, a picture of the Robben Island lighthouse, a gift received from Barack and Michelle Obama.
An official outcry, to block the sale of a simple metal key, after the whole of South Africa in the years of the domination ofAfrican National Congress (and especially at the end of the Mandela presidency in 1999) had gradually become prey to corrupt politicians, up to what has been called “the theft of the state” by President Zuma’s clique. And the last one sell the key, one might say. But in this story of detention and redemption who would be the last one?
To the announcement of the blocked auction, the doubt remained about the identity of the mysterious seller. Now one of Madiba’s 11 grandchildren, Ndaba Mandela, 39, bluntly accuses Aunt Makaziwe (the only surviving daughter of the Nobel Peace Prize winner who passed away in 2013). Mandla’s half-brother Mandela (the tribal chief of Mvezo, Mandela’s native village, who has always been in conflict with the close circle of family members) told Newzroom Africa Tv that the aunt would steal the key from her home.
The miserable economic disputes on the Mandela inheritance are on the agenda in the family. Everything must be taken with a grain of salt. But Aunt Makaziwe, 67, refused to respond to her nephew’s fresh accusations. It is known that the key to the cell on Robben Island, off Cape Town, where Mandela was detained from 1964 to 1982, was in the hands of Christo Brand, the jailer become friends of the most famous prisoner on the island, since the 1980s. But Brand, who arrived at 18-year-old Robben Island in 1978 and also followed Mandela to Pollsmoor Prison from which was released on February 11, 1990, he just told al Times of London that he donated the key to what had been presented to him as a charity auction, ahead of the creation of a garden dedicated to Mandela in the town where he is buried, in Qunu (not far from Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape). However, his nephew Ndaba says he knows nothing about the garden project. Perhaps none of the contenders are telling the whole truth. And Madiba wouldn’t be surprised at all.