Cape Town Journey (Saturday)

Sept. 29th 

Robben Island (as written by Marsha McNairy) 

We arrived at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for an 11:00 departure time to Robben Island.  The group was led through the Nelson Mandela Gateway to board the ferry.  The ferry ride over to the island was anything but calm, white capped waves all the way!!  It was almost like an amusement park ride!  Those hearty and brave souls that chose to stay top-side whooped and held-on tight to the rails so as not to be pitched overboard!  Once we arrived at the island, there were guides to meet and give us a brief history of the island before giving us the tour of the island by bus. Robben Island was, of course, the home of Nelson Mandela for many years.  Once the bus tour was over, we had a walking tour led by a former inmate of the prison.  Most of what we learned from our walking guide were things he experienced personally while incarcerated on Robben Island.  We were schooled on the history of extreme prejudice toward political prisoners (freedom fighters) and blacks in general.  If you were “colored” (which is described as anything other than black), you made out a little better than you would if you were “Bantu” which basically meant Black African.  Not to say that either group was treated with respect or dignity while housed on Robben Island.  At one time, there were also what they called “common prisoners” housed on Robben Island.  These common prisoners were better treated than those who were imprisoned for political reasons.  The common prisoners were actually taught skills, such as brick-laying and the like, while political prisoners were made to do “hard labor” in the lime quarries.  The limestone of the quarries was so bright; it often impaired their vision forever.  Robben Island was a sad history lesson for me, but it also did my heart good to know that Nelson Mandela survived Robben Island and brought non-violent peace and dignity to a people who had not experienced either emotion for quite a while.  It now serves as a symbol of freedom and liberation.


Once we returned from Robben Island, some of us hung out at the picturesque Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for lunch and a leisurely day of and shopping.  It was a beautiful day and there was music in the air played by live musicians!!  Another day in Africa, another adventure!!

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One Comment on “Cape Town Journey (Saturday)”

  1. Haya Naser Says:

    Wow! Unbelieveable story! I wish I was there to learn about Robben Island history and all that! Great experience to visit there! What a great another adventure!

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