Businessman 'saves' Mandela flag for South Africa

The South African flag which was due to be auctioned on March 24 in the UK has been saved for the nation in an agreement negotiated by auctioneer Bonhams in London.

The flag signed by the three South African presidents - Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk was flown at the historic presidential inauguration on May 10, 1994.

A London-based South African businessman and philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous has offered to buy the flag for an undisclosed amount

The sale was brokered by Bonhams on the understanding that the flag will be returned to South Africa and handed over to the South African Government.

"This is the happiest possible outcome for the flag," said Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams.

The South African flag signed by South Africa's three most recent presidents
- Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and F W de Klerk

"We are delighted to have been able to arrange a deal with this patriotic South African who was determined to see the flag return to where it best belongs."

The flag flew at a key moment in South Africa's turbulent history: the arrival of the country's first black president after more than three centuries of white rule.

It is a key piece of memorabilia from a moment of national and international celebration - and apprehension at what the future would hold.

The inauguration ceremony took place in the Union Buildings amphitheatre in Pretoria and was attended by politicians and dignitaries from more than 140 countries around the world.
President Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) party won 252 of the_400_seats in the first democratic elections of South Africa's history.

Addressing the crowd, President Mandela made his famous and iconic speech.

"We saw our country tear itself apart in terrible conflict... The time for healing of wounds has come..." he said.

" Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another." Urging forgiveness, he said in Afrikaans: "Wat is verby verby", or 'What is past is past'.

Otherwise, Bonhams' South African Art Sale on March 24 will still go ahead, featuring works from the best selling South African Artists, from Sekoto to Pierneef.

Last Thursday ( February 11) Nelson Mandela, now aged 71, celebrated the 20th anniversary of his release after 27 years of incarceration by the South African authorities.


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