“All my life, I have fought against white domination and black domination, and cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society. It is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” —Nelson Mandela, 20 April 1964
Today I visited the prison where Mandela was held until 1990. We were led in a tour by former prisoner Sipho Msomi, who began his sentence on Robben Island in 1983. I learned so much about the political prisoners held there and how much they sacrificed to move their country toward democracy. Here is a picture of Sipho.
I finished A Short History Of South Africa (2017) by Gail Nattrass yesterday, and while only part of it was about Robben Island, the cause of the ANC, and the political strife of the late twentieth century, the island seemed like an appropriate place to take a photo of it. Here it is in one of the common rooms near some of the bunk beds. Also pictured is the wall behind those bunk beds.
This book was captivating! I wanted to read something that would teach me about South Africa while I visit here, and this was the perfect choice. Each chapter is short, relatable, and full of interesting information. The book covers from early humans, with fascinating passages about some of those skeletons found, to 2016. I learned so much about some of the past tribal chiefs, the war between the Boers and the British, how apartheid came into play, and how democracy eventually made its way into politics with the cooperation of Prime Minister de Klerk and the eventual president, Nelson Mandela.
I have loved my time in South Africa so far. I’ve been in Cape Town, where the ocean and the city meet. See a view of the ocean and Table Mountain in Cape Town from Robben Island below.
Now I’m headed to Botswana. I’ll let you know if I see Alexander McCall Smith‘s Mma Ramotswe and her No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency there! 😉