Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cell of prisoner 466/64 at Robben Island

I visited Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner for 18 of the almost 3 decades he served for the cause of democracy and racial equality in South Africa.

We were lucky to get tickets -- when we called on Tuesday, we were told that there was no availability until Sunday (when neither of us would be in Cape Town). We decided to go down to the waterfront and try our luck with last minute cancellations. As luck would have it, there was a large convention group there for the tour and not everyone came, so we procured the only 2 extra tickets. (Later we would learn that several others from the guesthouse tried as well and were not as fortunate.)

It was a great day, very moving. The tour guides, all former prisoners of Robben Island, added a lot to the visit -- a lot of history and commentary with humor and humanity. It was an honor to be present in the place where the peaceful end of the cruel, inhumane institution of apartheid was planned, prepared for, and patiently, actively awaited and cultivated.

The day after I visited, PW Botha died. I did not find out until the following day (I was not on the internet nor watching TV news, and I heard the following day from my tour guide for a 1-day trip I took to Cape Point.)

Sunset, the return ride by boat to Cape Town:


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