Thursday, 18 September 2014

Robben Island

A photo tour starting in Cape Town is not complete without a short trip out to Robben Island, the infamous Apartheid-era gaol designed to hold the nation's most dangerous political prisoners.

Mandiba's cell in the maximum security block of Robben Island gaol. No bed, no heating, no water, no toilet.

One of the many ex-political prisoners who now guide tourists through the nightmare that must have been Robben Island during Apartheid

Prisoners were allowed visitors - usually two visits per year providing you applied at least 6 months ahead for permission. This was the room where Robert Sabukwe's four kids were allowed to stay on the occasions they came to visit
A curious symbol of Christianity in a place with no humanity...
Spartan prison wing that housed Mandela and many other 'politicals'...
Everyone knows this is where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years, but it was also home to many others including Joseph Zuma, Michael Matsobane and  Robert Sobukwe.

The inner razor wire at Robben Island looking very much like the fencing round an extermination camp.

Sobukwe was imprisoned for 'incitement'.  In 1960 he rallied against South Africa's much hated pass laws in Orlando, Soweto and consequently spent nine years on Robben Island, mostly in isolation.  It was at this time that similar demonstrations were held in the Transvaal resulting in the death of 69 unarmed protesters at Sharpeville. I remember reading about this massacre when I was at college - the student union at the time was doing its best to boycott any English company that had business in the republic (particularly Barclays Bank).

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