Tuesday, December 17, 2013

South Africa Part 5: Robben Island

Since we had bad weather on November 30 when we were supposed to see Robben Island and Table Mountain, we had to find another day to visit both. 

On December 2 we headed to the waterfront to see if the weather would allow us to visit Robben Island. All the morning tours were booked but we got ourselves on a 3pm boat.

So we had to kill some time at the waterfront

Only 10,371 miles to San Francisco

Paul didn't want to get in the frame

Finally on the boat and of course it gets overcast but it's still a nice view of Table Mountain

But we're happy to finally be on our way

Robben Island - about an hour boat ride from the waterfront

Table Mountain and Robben Island

Some seals hanging out

We were taken on buses for the first part of the tour

Robben Island served as a prison in the late 17th century when the Dutch sent their convicts there but between the late 17th century and 1959, it was home to a hospital, a leper colony and an asylum for the mentally ill. Starting in 1961, Robben Island became a maximum security prison for political prisoners and a medium security prison for criminal prisoners.

Our tour started with a bus ride which drove us past the freestanding cell where Robert Sobukwe (another political activist against apartheid who founded the Pan Africanist Congress) was held in solitary confinement for 6 years (sorry, no photo from the bus) and the limestone quarry where freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela would do hard labor for many hours a day. Before heading inside the prison, we stopped for a break.

A view of the Robben Island lighthouse

Table Bay

After the tour on the bus, a former Robben Island political prisoner showed us around (we arrived a bit late so I didn't catch his name)

Our guide is pointing out what prisoners had to sleep on

Everyone had a number because names were too hard to pronounce - number sequence 69/64 in this example means that the prisoner, Billy Nair, was the 69th prisoner in 1964. Most people know Nelson Mandela's - 466/64.

This shows the difference in meal plans - the left are what "Coloureds/Asiaties" would
receive and and the right are what "Bantus" (or Blacks) would receive 

Walking towards cell block B

Cell block B courtyard

Entering cell block B - I just missed including the 4th window, which was the window of Nelson Mandela's cell

Not a very big courtyard

Cell block B; everyone is going towards the cell that Nelson Mandela stayed in

Cell #4 - Nelson Mandela's cell for 18 years of his 27 years in prison

Cell block B hallway

More than 3000 political prisoners were held on the island before the end of apartheid

Walking towards cell block A

Leaving the area

The tour was very educational and I'm glad we got the chance to learn more about the freedom fighters
who were imprisoned here 

After a bumpy ride back to the V&A Waterfront, Paul needed to let off some steam.

The elephant had it coming

Nutcracker

To end the day, we decided to catch Catching Fire in a "luxury" theater where you
basically sit in a La-Z-Boy

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