16.06, part II: Robben Island

Today was a cultural day with a lot of historical elements: Apartheid and Nelson Mandela. Two elements (among others) who’ll stay forever in Africans’ memory.

In the afternoon, Camissa had arranged a Robben Island Tour. The ferry left at Waterfront, a trendy area at the port.

So we left for Robben Island.

DSCN5380We arrived and climbed on a bus that drove with us around the Island. We first stopped at the Robert Sobukwe house, the only “detainee” of the island. After his arrest, and his 3 years of prison, they decided to keep him on the island (they even created a special “Sobukwe clause” on the law) because he was to dangerous. He had a proper house, but had two wardens, he couldn’t speak to anyone, and could only walk between the four fences. His wife and kids could ask permission to visit hem, but they were not always allowed to.

It was amazing to see how the whole island has been used as infrastructure for the prison, for the houses of the wardens, … But also as a World War I & II base camp and in the beginning as a place where leprosy patients where sent to. The prisoners worked in the quarry what caused a lot of tuberculose and other diseases. Interesting fact: the prisoners used the quarry as a university auditorium: professors who have been arrested with their students, worked together in the quarry. In the meantime, they gave lessons. A lot of prisoners who came illiterate to Robben Island, could read when they left the island.

Nice view on Capetown and Table Mountain.

After our island tour, we headed off to the main buildings: the prison. Our guide was an ex-prisoner of Robben Island, what made the whole experience that little more special.

It was interesting but also suffocating to hear the whole story out of the mouth of an ex-prisoner. The way they dealt with the whole situation, the punishments, the treatments, the different parties in the prison. It is hard to realise that these situation persisted until 1990.

We missed our boat of 4 pm, so we had to wait for the boat of 5 pm. We were stuck on the island for 1 hour. Nothing compared to the 15 years our guide had to do.

And with another beautiful sunset above the Robben Island, we set off to land again.

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