Not imprisoned on Robben Island

LOCATION: Capetown, South Africa

WEATHER: Perfect! High 70 and sunny

Today’s highlight was a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years. The island is a UNESCO world heritage site.

After a 30-minute ferry ride, we were escorted by bus to the prison area. Our guide is a former prisoner, there with Nelson Mandela. He was very stern.

The guide was very informative, and we learned that there both criminal as well as political prisoners there during his stay. Conditions were terrible – in this area 40-60 inmates slept on the cold hard floor.

At some point, the rest of the world learned about these prisoners, inspected the prison, and got conditions improved a bit, to include actual cots.

There were no white prisoners, but there was still differentiated treatment based on skin color – Blacks (called Bantu), coloreds, and asiastic. They were placed in different buildings and were given different types/amounts of food.

This is Mandela’s cell…

Then, we took a bus ride around the island. About 300 people still live in the little town where the wardens and military stayed when the prisoners were there. We stopped at the tip of the island where we could see Capetown across the water. There were huge clumps of seaweed in the water.

The island has had a long history of sadness. It was used as a prison back to the 1600s. Then, it was a dumping ground for people with mental illness and leprosy. This leper graveyard reminds us of that era…

Back on the mainland, this seal greeted us….

It was a very interesting outing We are glad we did it.

DINNER: Ostrich burgers!

They tasted more like beef than poultry.

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