A Journey Into South Africa’s Apartheid Era

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Sikhululekile, the new deluxe Robben Island ferry, cruised throughout Desk Bay at a strong 25knot tempo with a complete load of 285 travellers. This was the begin of our 3hr30min journey into South Africa’s bumpy apartheid record. Standing on the outer deck, the robust wind participating in havoc with my prolonged hair when Sikhululekile bounded powerfully over the enormous swell, I was getting entertained by a school of dolphins playfully subsequent together with the motor yacht. In just 30min we had arrived at the island only 12km from the Cape City harbour, the potent stench of the seal colony at the entrance to the harbour maliciously reawakened my senses, totally knocking me off guard. Luckily it was brief lived and I could get back my composure as the smell dissipated when we disembarked.

The island itself is relatively modest at only 570 hectares and was applied predominantly as a maximum-safety jail for equally political prisoners and convicts. In the nineteenth century it was applied as a leper colony. Again in 1892, it was thought that leprosy was contagious and those with leprosy ended up banished to the island. Today just one can see the graveyard of the remaining bodies. Through Earth War 2, the island was fortified and guns were being mounted as section of the defences for Cape City.

All 285 passengers embarked the waiting around tour busses to partake in a 45 min scenic tour all over the island, each and every with its very own tour information giving an useful commentary. The busses then pulled up exterior the optimum-safety jail and we ended up taken inside on a journey of desperate struggle, of harsh labour and awful dwelling conditions. (The massive team of three hundred travelers have been again split up into more compact groups). Our guide, Muthe, an ex-political prisoner, described a lot of horrific scenes that he encountered first hand and however remembers vividly today. I could feeling an extreme anger in him in excess of South Africa’s past, how matters made use of to be, how black men and women in our region have been addressed only due to the fact of their color. I puzzled if Muthe felt there had been in a adjust in our state around the previous 19 decades (given that the final release of all the political prisoners in 1991) or considering that South Africa turned a democracy (1994), or did he still maintain anger and blame to South Africa’s apartheid period? Muthe and the other ex-political prisoners, are a product or service of a long time of violent conflict, one particular that will probably choose numerous many years however to alter at main level.

Robben Island grew to become a museum in 1997 and a Planet Heritage Web-site 1999. Robben Island signifies the “Triumph of Independence” and though 1 tends to occur away from the 3hr30min tour with a dreadful feeling of determined struggle obtaining currently being adversely impacted by the horrific stories of our ex-political prisoner tour guidebook, it tries to expose the positive improve. Sikhululekile, the apt title preferred for the ferry, signifies, “We are Cost-free” and commemorates the launch of all political prisoners. Significant blue producing on the sides of the busses referred to as out “Driven by Independence”. A estimate by Ahmed Kathrada, a Robben Island political prisoner (1964 – 1982) is exhibited on the island and at the Robben Island Gateway Museum “We want Robben Island to replicate the triumph of independence and human dignity over oppression and humiliation”

This year eleven February 2010, South Africa celebrates the 20th anniversary of our considerably-highly regarded previous president, Nelson Mandela’s launch from much more than 27 many years of imprisonment. Nelson Mandela was released on 11 February 1990 from the lower-safety Victor Verster prison, now regarded as the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, in the Dwars River valley close to Paarl, Western Cape. Mandela had been relocated from Robben Island to the highest-stability Pollsmoor Jail in Cape Town’s southern suburbs in 1984, and a few yrs later on he was moved to a personal household in just the prison walls of Victor Verster.

The tour is a interesting journey, a single I would advise to all South Africans, let by itself all worldwide visitors. It can be imperative for us to be mindful of, and have an understanding of, our past and transfer forward jointly as a country.

The Robben Island tour is a weather dependent action and should Robben Island need to have to terminate the vacation owing to superior winds, tough seas or rain, you will either be refunded for your ticket or positioned on a tour the subsequent day.

By Claire Dinnie