The family of former late South African President Nelson Mandela is selling personal items of the famed leader to help pay for a memorial garden being built in his honor.
New York-based auction house Guerney’s will host a live and online auction on December 11, which will help pay for the Nelson Mandela Freedom Garden in Qunu, South Africa, where Mandela is buried.
The family is selling roughly 100 items but will keep things that showcase the late elder statesman as a family man for the memorial space.
Included in the sale are briefcases, pants and some of his famous Madiba shirts.
“It is hard but at the same time, when it comes to the shirts, my father had lots of shirts, lots and lots of shirts,” said Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, the struggle icon’s oldest daughter.
Makaziwe said her father wanted to generate tourism on the Eastern Cape where he was born, so as the oldest, she feels a great responsibility to make that happen for him after his death.
The family hopes guests of the garden are inspired to reevaluate their lives.
“When people come and visit they have to actually deal with their own issues that they have, not just in terms of racism, but also personal issues. When they finish walking the garden they should actually have a sense of what lesson can I take from Nelson Mandela’s life that I take home with me,” said Makaziwe.
Phase one of the site has already been completed.
For three weeks, 10 shirts included in the sale, will be on exhibition at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology’s museum.
The school said having the exhibit is a wonderful way to educate and inspire diverse audiences and students.
“These shirts, the Madiba shirts are much more than a fashion statement. They are about our entire world, how we view the world, how we want to advance our society and our cultures. And so again, this is a statement way beyond just being about personal enhancement. It is saying something about how we can change the world through dress.”
Gurney’s president, Arlan Ettinger said Mandela was first given a shirt by former Indonesian president Suharto’s batik when he was released from prison. Adding that he viewed the shirts as expressions of joy and later became what separated him visually from the typical politician.
Also included in the auction are a pair of glasses worn by Mandela, gifts he received from presidents, and handwritten documents.
“This four-page letter, Mr. Mandela wrote in 1976 while imprisoned on Robben Island. You can see how patiently he wrote this out. And then here it is the stamp from Robben Island prison. The letter was written to the commanding officer of Robben Island Prison.”
Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 in 2013 at his Johannesburg home.