Dr Maki Mandela Tells of Treasured Madiba Memories Going on Charity Auction
Original Mandela pastel and gold-encased stone from Madiba’s dynamite hilltop grave will be among treasures auctioned to fund Qunu demo farm & other charities, says Dr Maki Mandela
As the world celebrates 100 years since his birth, discussing the private moments with her father Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, explaining his spirituality and humanity and how he would have wanted his vision carried forward is still difficult for his eldest daughter Dr Maki Mandela.
The head of the House of Mandela Family Foundation shares her late father’s memory with billions of people across the world who consider him part of their families too.
The up side to what is arguably the world’s largest extended clan is that with so many people being touched by “Madiba Magic”, says Dr Mandela, there is the growing awareness that collectively harnessing each individual’s contribution towards the greater good will make the world better in the long run.
Ensuring that Madiba’s legacy lives on has become Dr Mandela’s greatest passion, so it’s with astonishing tenderness that the formidable curator of his vision explains why she is auctioning several mementos that are extremely dear to her.
Among the items that will be auctioned by High Street Auctions’ Lead Auctioneer and Director Joff van Reenen at a gala event in Houghton, Johannesburg, to celebrate Mandela’s centenary on November 30 is one of only 22 original pastels ever drawn by Mandela.
Until now all have been held by the family in a single poignant collection of memories spanning life in rural Qunu in the Eastern Cape and the hardships he endured as a prisoner on Robben Island.
There is also a rare life-scale pewter cast of his right hand, as well as a one kilogram coin commemorating Mandela’s road to freedom. Encased in the coin lies a stone that carries a remarkable story.
The Forever Young Ball and Gala Dinner and auction will become an annual fundraiser for the charitable work that the Nobel Peace Laureate held most dear.
Hard Labour in Soft Pastel
The star of the auction is likely to be the only pastel sketch Mandela ever drew of the desolate limestone quarry on Robben Island where he and so many other prisoners spent backbreaking days crushing rock.
Dr Mandela says letting go of this pastel won’t be easy. “Tata created the Struggle Series in 2004. Those who know about the artworks have always asked me the same question; why did he draw Robben Island?
“I think the answer lies in the number of years he spent there as a prisoner, and it was also the time when he missed Qunu the most. He loved it very much; it’s where he grew up.
“The thing he particularly loved during his years behind bars was the visits by one of my aunts, who used to tell him all the village gossip. There’s no place that was closer to Tata than Qunu.”
Dr Mandela explains that one of her father’s deepest regrets around the number of years he spent as a political prisoner was not being there for his mother.
“It’s not surprising that among the pastels he sketched was his childhood home in Qunu. My dad was a mama’s boy,” she laughs affectionately. “He loved his mother very much.
“His major regret was that he wasn’t there to do the important things that a son does for a mother. He wasn’t there either when she passed away.
“But his love for Qunu never waned and you can see it in his pastels.”
Dr Mandela jokes that without formal art training “Tata drew like a young person”, but he was, nevertheless, “very good with colour”.
She says the time is right in his centenary year to auction one pastel to further her father’s vision.
“Agriculture is a major way we can create wealth for our people, not only the rural population but as an opportunity for our youth.
“It’s in line with my father’s legacy. Proceeds from this auction will go towards realising this dream for him and for our people.
The Good Farmer
“Something few know is that Tata was a farmer. He had cows, chickens, a piggery and greenhouses with lots of vegetables like spinach and pumpkins and his farm supplied produce to the local village. In his will it stated clearly that he wanted the farm to continue to provide for the village”
Dr Mandela says it was on one of her return trips home, though, when she was standing at her father’s grave that she looked over the farm and realised more could be done.
“I thought oh my goodness Tata must be disappointed in his children for letting so much land lie fallow.
“Food security affects us all, and in line with that we will be working after the auction to turn Tata’s farm at Qunu into a demonstration farm with an agricultural Centre of Excellence.”
Madiba’s Spiritual Pilgrimage
Dr Mandela says the demonstration farm is the immediate plan, but long term is a more spiritual mission closely bound to her father’s life path.
“Eventually his burial site will be reached via the Walk to Freedom and our dream is that it will become a place of pilgrimage for anyone who is struggling with issues of freedom.
“It will be the Mandela Shrine and pilgrims will be able to walk their own personal journey while they walk Tata’s spiritual journey.”
Dr Mandela says creating a place of remembrance is integral to her father’s legacy.
“Why people around the world love my dad is not because he was a great politician. It’s this spiritual thing; he touched human beings whether it was a fisherman in the Maldives, someone living in remote China or even America. “
Treasure from a Dynamite Solution
Mandela’s final resting place is integral to another item being auctioned on November 30; the one kilogram commemorative coin encased in 24-carat gold.
The innocuous-looking piece of sandstone set in a hole in the coin is also an object lesson in African tenacity because it came from deep in the earth where Mandela rests.
Dr Mandela explains that “deep” in this instance refers to significantly further down than a standard burial site, because the place her father chose to be buried proved curiously disinclined initially to yield to the family’s attempts at peaceful reinterment of her brothers and sister.
“In our culture a person should not be buried alone, so when Tata wanted to be buried on a hill on his farm rather than in the family burial ground we decided to move the graves of my three siblings so that Tata would be surrounded by family.
“When we tried to dig though, we realised that the hill was sandstone and digging was impossible. In the end we had to dynamite the whole place and excavate as well; it was the only way we could prepare the new burial ground!”
Dr Mandela says it was a difficult period because they knew Madiba’s time was near, but it was standing in the blast zone where her father would eventually be laid to rest that she picked up one small rock.
“The stone came from the very spot where Tata now lies, which is why it’s meaningful because it’s like being touched by his spirit.”
Dr Mandela says when she received the 24-carat gold plated coin commemorating her father’s journey from jail to the Union Buildings she asked to have the rock set into it and the single relic from deep in the hillside where he’s buried has been there ever since.
Taking Madiba’s Hand
Another family treasure and definite auction highlight at the end of the month will be the pewter cast of Mandela’s open right hand. A set of hands cast in gold was sold earlier this year in Canada for ten million dollars. Media reports at the time of the auction erroneously indicated that the gold casts were the only ones in existence, but the moulds for the casts are part of the Mandela estate.
The Forever Young Ball and Gala Dinner and auction being hosted in Houghton at Madiba’s residence forms part of the official Mandela 100 program. It has a twofold purpose; to celebrate and pay tribute to the legacy of Mandela, as well as via the auction on the night provide a platform to raise funds for charity.
Partners in the event include the House of Mandela Family Foundation, the Enhle Cares Foundation, the Africa Rising Foundation, the Nozala Trust, World Food Program, Lounge Around and Global Citizen and includes a gourmet dinner, powerful stories from participants, awards for honourees, dancing and the auction.
Van Reenen notes that fundraising on the night will comprise a silent auction, Mandela’s Moment of Giving and a live auction.
“I doubt we’ll ever again see such personal items from the struggle icon coming to the block again, certainly not a collection of this nature endorsed and authenticated by the Mandela family,” Van Reenen said in conclusion.
For inquiries about reservations contact Diana@foreveryoungball.com
Twenty rare items, all but one commemorating the life of Nelson Mandela, will form part of the silent auction at the Gala event. All live and silent auction lots are endorsed by the Mandela family and will carry an original certificate of authenticity from the family. The lots are as follows:
- Mini struggle series – 6 inlaid drawings with invocation – from the Mandela family personal collection – with original signature.
- Abstract face of nelson Mandela on copper – House of Mandela
- Twin face of nelson Mandela inverted – laser cut – House of Mandela
- Wood abstract face of Nelson Mandela – laser cut – House of Mandela
- Original Nelson Mandela shirt – owned by nelson Mandela – from the private collection of the Mandela family
- Bar and key – original replica of the jail cell key of nelson Mandela on Robben island – from the private collection of the Mandela family. How many in existence?????
- 4x Hands – 2000 copies made – from the private collection of the Mandela family
- Litho print “Love” 2 of 30 – with original Nelson Mandela signature – from the private collection of the Mandela family
- Litho print “Earth” 2 of 30 – with original Nelson Mandela signature – from the private collection of the Mandela family
- Box set – clock. With 24ct gold plated coin, pen and laser cut Nelson Mandela signature, moleskin book with Africa embossed Nelson Mandela signature
- Special Edition Centenary set “From Freedom to Future”, with original Nelson Mandela signature – 2 of 200, Bottle of Shiraz with laser cut signature – House of Mandela
- Hublot Mandela Special Edition Watch – case 42mm 18ct King Gold, polished – Mandela engraving with 1 row stone setting, 35 white diamonds aprox 1.15ct – Case 18c king gold, satin finished – “SPECIAL EDITION 1 OF 95” ENGRAVING, back sapphire crystal – With box presentation case including certificate of authenticity – personal collection of Dr. Maki Mandela
- Mandela Mantle Clock – Struggle Hand with laser cut signature – Big 5 on rear – House of Mandela
- Nelson Mandela Mantle Clock – Nguni cow hide leather – House of Mandela
- 2x Beaded African Purses with handbag caddy – complete with laser cut Nelson Mandela signature – House of Mandela
- Wall Clock – Beaded – House of Mandela
- African necklace, bracelet and earrings set in blue – House of Mandela – Box set – earrings
- African necklace, bracelet and earrings set in green – House of Mandela – Box set
- African necklace, bracelet and earrings set in pink – House of Mandela – Box set
- Black Panther Signed Cast Mask – Original from the motion picture and signed by Stan Lee and the main actors from movie – donation