The South African flag which was due to be auctioned on 24th March in the UK has been saved for the nation in an agreement negotiated by Bonhams
in London. The flag signed by the three South African presidents - Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and F. W. de Klerk was flown at the historic presidential inauguration on 10th May 1994.
A London based South African businessman and philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous has offered to buy the flag for an undisclosed amount in a sale brokered by Bonhams on the understanding that it would be returned to South Africa and handed over to the South African Government.
Giles Peppiatt, Director of South African Art at Bonhams, said: This is the happiest possible outcome for the flag. 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 Africas turbulent history, the arrival of the countrys first black president after more than three centuries of white rule, a moment of national and international celebration, and some local apprehension at what the future would hold.
President Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) party won 252 of the 400 seats in the first democratic elections of South Africa's history. 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.
There were jubilant scenes on the streets of Pretoria following the ceremony with more than 100,000 South African men, women and children of all races singing and dancing with joy. When the new president, flanked by First Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and Second Deputy President FW de Klerk, appeared on the Botha Lawn beneath the Union Buildings the crowd went wild.
Addressing the crowd President Mandela said: "We saw our country tear itself apart in terrible conflict... The time for healing of wounds has come... Never, never again will this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another." And urging forgiveness he said in Afrikaans: "Wat is verby verby" - "What is past is past"
Bonhams South African Art Sale on March 24 will feature works from the best selling South African Artists from Sekoto to Pierneef.