Wednesday, 4 July 2012


OMG... I seriously don't know how it got to be Wednesday again. I don't work, I don't go out for coffees or lunches every five minutes and I don't go out shopping much so where does the time go. I am ALWAYS busy and I am NEVER bored. So before I get distracted any more I am going to take you on a trip to Robben Island today and for those of you who may not know here is a little history lesson :D

"People lived on Robben Island many thousands of years ago, when the sea channel between the Island and the Cape mainland was not covered with water. Since the Dutch settled at the Cape in the mid-1600s, Robben Island has been used primarily as a prison.

Indigenous African leaders, Muslim leaders from the East Indies, Dutch and British soldiers and civilians, women, and anti-apartheid activists, including South Africa's first democratic President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, were all imprisoned on the Island.  

Robben Island has not only been used as a prison. It was a training and defence station in World War II (1939-1945) and a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill (1846-1931). In the 1840s, Robben Island was chosen for a hospital because it was regarded as both secure (isolating dangerous cases) and healthy (providing a good environment for cure). During this time, political and common-law prisoners were still kept on the Island. As there was no cure and little effective treatment available for leprosy, mental illness and other chronic illnesses in the 1800s, Robben Island was a kind of prison for the hospital patients too.

Since 1997 it has been a museum and a heritage site."

It was such a beautiful day for us to go to this island - that was in fact much larger than I had imagined. 500 hectares in all. We left to go across on this boat... Magic happens when you least expect it...

This is the amazing view that we left behind us. The Victoria and Albert Waterfront in CT.

I took a couple of close ups of some of the shops and restaurants there. Simply stunning.

An of course the big wheel. Must be a fabulous view from the top... Just saying.

Look what I spotted a container ship coming in to the harbour with all the washing hanging out to dry. Gotta love it.

How cute is this little boat.... I am in love.

This is the mountain in all its glory.

Our first close up glimpses of Robben Island... this was the commissioners house that is being converted into a B & B and will soon be opening, I would love to go back and stay over. So much exploring.

My favourite - Light houses.

Standing guard at the entrance to the harbour.

Arrived at last and to think that this is where the prisoners disembarked, from the same boats.

As we walked up from the docks this is the first thing that you see... 

The Moturu Kramat, a sacred site for Muslim pilgrimage on Robben Island, was built in 1969 to commemorate Sayed Adurohman Moturu, the Prince of Madura. Moturu, one of Cape Town's first 'imans', was exiled to the island in the mid 1740s and died there in 1754.
Muslim political prisoners would pay homage at the shrine before leaving the island.

Our first glimpse of the prison.

The graves of the many lepers who died on this island...


These are the kennels for the dogs on the island and they are bigger than the cells.

This house is in the same enclosure as the dog kennels and was for one prisoner. Robert Sobukwe joined ANCYL and was also Editor of the Africanist Newspaper. He led a march to a local police station against the Pass Laws and was imprisoned for incitement  for three years.

After serving his sentence, he was interned on Robben Island. The new General Law Amendment Act was passed, allowing his imprisonment to be renewed annually at the discretion of the Minister of Justice. This procedure became known as the "Sobukwe clause" and went on for a further three years. Sobukwe was the only person imprisoned under this clause.

He was kept here in isolation and there was another house close by where his family would stay when they came to visit him during the children's school holidays.

There are two churches on the island and each year for the sum of R50.00 you can come to this one on February 14 and get married or renew your vows. How cool is that. This last year 250 couples went there.

This cave is in the limestone quarry where the prisoners went to carry out their hard labour. With poor tools often having to use their hands. So they used to have their lunch break inside this cave to get away from the heat. They also had to use it as their toilet and they also used it as a place to educate one another. Many people learned how to read and write (in the sand) during their lunch breaks on Robben Island.

After the prison was closed down and Madiba and all the other prisoners went back their - each one of them put a stone on a pile at the entrance to the quarry and that pile still stands.

There is also a clinic on the Island.

A school which has recently closed down and the kids go to school on the mainland.

And a small cafe type shop. 

There are still 200 families living on the Island but the kids go by boat each day to the mainland for school.

Then we went to the general cell block where the bulk of the prisoners were kept. In large cells of +- 20 people sleeping like this on the floor.

Or in bunk beds.

They got these papers...

and this list of rations per day... The black people got less than the Indians or the coloureds.

Finally, this is Madiba's cell. :(

This for me was a mind blowing visit. I really think that anyone who lives in South Africa should go to this island and see it. I was shocking for me. I know it was a prison and that some of them were really bad extremists but a lot of them were just imprisoned because they were black and had different political views.

Well that's me for today. Next time I will be taking you to a wine farm.


  1. Thanks for the lesson and wonderful pictures. I look forward to the wine trip!

  2. Just a wonderful travel documentary, Valerieann! A picture may be worth a thousand words, but, in this case, those words have added so much! Lovin' your traveling!!