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Technology meets history as Nelson Mandela’s digital arrest warrant raises R1.9 million at auction

A digital version of the original 1961 warrant of arrest for Nelson Mandela was auctioned of R1.9 million on Saturday, 61 years after it was first issued. Picture: Supplied

A digital version of the original 1961 warrant of arrest for Nelson Mandela was auctioned of R1.9 million on Saturday, 61 years after it was first issued. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 29, 2022

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Cape Town - Technology met history when the digital version of the original 1961 warrant of arrest for Nelson Mandela realised R1.9 million at a historic NFT auction.

The auction was held in Cape Town over the weekend in aid of Liliesleaf Farm and Museum.

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The warrant had a reserve price of R1.5 million.

The auction was the idea of Momin chief executive Ahren Posthumus, who said the money raised was remarkable.

He said Liliesleaf, despite its national importance, had experienced significant financial constraints in recent years, and had embarked on a fundraising mission, leveraging its historical assets as NFTs to open a gateway to global markets for South Africa’s arts and culture industries.

Last year, the same company auctioned another unique historical artefact – Oliver Tambo’s spy pen gun, which sold for R50 000, also to raise money for Lilliesleaf.

However, not everyone was happy about the auction. Secretary of the Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA), Mpho Masemola, said the organisation was against the project and had lobbied the Arts and Culture Department, as well as the South African Heritage Resources Agency to have the auction stopped.

Masemola called for all the intellectual property of ex-political prisoner’s to be protected, otherwise all the memories of the Struggle would be sold to the highest bidder.

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He said the EPPA, as the custodian of ex-political prisoner’s heritage and legacy projects, had instructed the Robben Island Museum council to audit all the artefacts left by ex-political prisoners when they were released from prison in 1991.

Meanwhile, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Intellectual Property Trust started uploading a wide-ranging and little-known series of television messages recorded by Tutu over the years on to a specially created YouTube site.

The first batch of 70 messages was linked to the trust’s website, with hundreds more to be loaded.

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Chairperson, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, said: “We speak of technology having reduced the world to a global village. The television messages are but one strand of the archive we must build to ensure the Archbishop’s teaching and wisdom are available to scholars, historians, theologians and leaders – now and forever.”

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Cape Argus

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