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Auction #117 begins on 22 Aug 2024

Mandela (Nelson)


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The four documents are mounted on acid-free paper. Items 1, 2 & 4 are in very good condition. Item 3is a mimeographed-type duplicated document with the printing ink having faded over time.

Natvaral 'Natoo' Babenia and Nelson Mandela were both founder cadres in the African National Congress’ armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) (MK), which carried out its first operations on the 16th December 1961 - a public holiday then known as the Day of the Vow and now officially as the Day of Reconciliation. Mandela, together with fellow South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo, was the co-initiator of MK and founding commander-in-chief. The Durban born Babenia was a pipe-bomb maker, working closely with Ronnie Kasrils. At the flagship trial of the Natal High Command operations Babenia received the second highest sentence - 16 years - being released in 1980. Near uniquely Babenia had prior experience of sabotage activity, he earlier having left South Africa, travelling to India where he became active in pro-independence struggles, including sabotage.

In the late 1980s Iain Edwards assisted Babenia in writing his political memoirs, which were published by Mayibuye Books in 1995 - see sources listed below. In 1993 Nelson Mandela was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Law by the University of Natal. Babenia asked to meet with Mandela, with that meeting taking place in Mandela’s waiting lounge in the University Sports Centre, the venue for the graduation ceremony. Babenia took with him to the meeting, for Mandela to autograph, his two highly prized Robben Island certificates and two historical documents which form part of this collection. 


1.  Robben Island Academy of Fine Arts Certificate, position 2, 4 March 1973
2. 'Listen, White Man', ANC flyer, collected by the municipal Department of Native Administration in Lamontville Township on 6 June 1963.
3. 'Umkhonto we Sizwe Spearheads Revolution. Leballo? No!' n.d. (Potlake Leballo was the leader of the ANC break-away Pan Africanist Congress
4. Robben Island Institute Education of Council Literary Award, First Prize Certificate, 26 March 1974. 

Babenia N as told to Edwards I (1995) Memoirs of a saboteur. Reflections on my political activity in India and South Africa. Bellville: Mayibuye Books
'Babenia, brave beyond measure' by Arushan Naidoo. Sunday Tribune 4 June 2017
Davis S (2018) The ANC’s war against apartheid. Umkhonto we Sizwe and the liberation of South Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press
Ellis S (2013) External mission. The ANC in exile, 1960-1990. New York: Oxford University Press
Kasrils R (1993) Armed and dangerous. My undercover struggle against apartheid. Oxford: Heinemann
South African History Online:

  • Overall Condition: Good copies
  • Sold By: Clarke's Africana & Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Paul Mills
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 021 794 0600
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  • Trade Associations: ABA - ILAB, SABDA

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