£30k for the document that led to Nelson Mandela's imprisonment

Here is a fascinating item for anyone interested in South Africa's recent history.

A copy of the ANC Freedom Charter of 1955 will sell at Bonhams South African Art Sale, on March 24 in London.

It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

"The Freedom Charter captured the hopes and dreams of the people and acted as a blueprint for the liberation struggle and the future of the nation." - Nelson Mandela, in his autobiography

The document is notable for its demand for and commitment to a non-racial South Africa, and this has remained the platform of the African National Congress (ANC).

In this way, the Freedom Charter, designed to give all South Africans equal rights, can be seen as a foundation for the current South African Constitution.

The charter, calling for democracy and human rights, land reform, labour rights, and nationalisation, was officially adopted on June 26, 1955 at a Congress of the People in Kliptown.

After the congress was denounced as treason, the South African government banned the ANC and arrested 156 activists, including Mandela.

He was imprisoned for five years in 1962, before his jail term was extended due to his involvement with the ANC. Mandela would not be freed until February 11, 1990.

Estimated at £20,000-30,000,the ANC Freedom Charter of 1955 changed the course of South Africa's history. Click on the image to view some of the text ("South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white...")


However, the charter continued to circulate in the revolutionary underground and inspired a new generation of young militants in the 1980s.

Because of the huge historical significance of this document it will be sold without a South African export licence, ensuring that it remains within the Republic of South Africa.

It will auction alongside 230 works of South African artists including Irma Stern, Maggie Laubser, Jacob Pierneef, Gerard Sekoto, William Kentridge, Maud Sumner and Cecil Scotness.

The sale, scheduled for March 24, will make up for the cancelled auctioning of a South African flag signed by three South African presidents, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk.

An anonymous London-based South African businessman and philanthropist offered to buy the flag for an undisclosed amount, and keep it in South Africa.

Meanwhile, South Africa art is becoming increasingly popular among collectors. Last year, an incredible six World Records were smashed by art from the region, also at Bonhams, in its October sale.


Image: Bonhams

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