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Robben Island – ‘A Lonely Place’

Mon, Jan 11, 2010

South Africa

Symbolizes as ‘the Indestructibility of the Spirit of Resistance against Colonialism, Injustice and Oppression’

Robben Island, twelve kilometers away from Cape Town has witnessed the stories of banishment, injustice and cruelty done for nearly four hundred years on the people. The town was home for such people who had gone through discrimination, injustice and banishment who were regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of society by the rulers.

The island got famous internationally for its institutional brutality done during the Apartheid years. Robben Island was a prison where most of the freedom thinkers and politician were born. The people who ran the Island and the prison were given duty to break the inner strength, make them aimless in life and to accept the cruelty happening with them. It was more like a concentration camp for those who could encourage and motivate other to join the struggle against the white rule. Some gave up their life and some were killed by the apartheid servants. Some spend their whole life inside the prison strengthening their aim in life and making plans for freedom so their next generation could live life with dignity and freedom. They did not gave up and never stop believing in freedom and equality. Such people have turned this hellhole into symbol of freedom and self-liberation. Once this place was looked down and now the place is inspirational to many inspiring politician, thinkers, and remembrance to the people who are living life of equality and freedom.

Robben Island has a long history for being a prison. Even when Dutch settled in here Cape in mid sixteenth century, the Robben Island was used primarily as prison. The prison have given the country some extra ordinary people like Robben Island, South Africa Indigenous African leaders, Muslim leaders from the East Indies, Dutch and British settler soldiers and civilians, women, and anti-apartheid activists, including South Africa’s first democratic President, Nelson Mandela and the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

Today Robben Island is viewed as victory over repression done by the Apartheid and other human rights abuses. During 1960, even after the opposition of Apartheid, the prisoners organized events like sports, political debated and educational programmes to build up confidence and faith in better future within the prisoners. Because of these people, the foundation of modern democracy was built. The apartheid tried hard to break their inner soul but with help and support of each other, they got strong and stronger.

The Robben Island in South Africa was not only used as prison but was also a training and defense station in WWII and later hospital for leprosy, mentally and constantly ill patients. In case of dangerous cases of illness the location of hospital was good as it was isolated. That time all patients, politician, common law breaker were kept together. In 1997, the island was turned into museum and declared as World heritage by the UNESCO. The museum also acts as active dynamic institution, which organize educational programmes for the schools, youths and adults, assists in developing tourism, and carry out researches on Robben Island.

The island also  organizes tour of Robben Island where you will see lighthouse made by the Dutch settlers. The whole tour will takes three hours to show around the island. Around forty-five minutes tour is also there to show the historical prison and the prison cell where Nelson Mandela spend his most of his young years.




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