|Example of the food rations as decided by race|
|Nelson Mandela's Cell|
|Old school for kids who lived on the island|
After visiting Mandela's cell, the group boarded a tour bus that drove us around the perimeter of the island. We stopped at "Lepers Graveyard," which was where inhabitants of the island, who died isolated from their families and the mainland were laid to rest. From there, the bus drove by the few residences that remain on the island. Currently, about 140 people live on the island. Most of the current citizens include ex prisoners and guards, as well as anyone involved directly with Robben Island tourism. Guards who were the most sympathetic towards prisoners are best knows as the guards that still live on the island. Next, we drove by a cave which was known as the first site of the democratic parliament. Prisoners were kept in the cave under a "shot to kill" policy which means that if they tried to escape, the prison guards on duty above the cave, were ordered to shoot and kill the fleeing prisoner. Because of their isolation, the prisoners in the cave had no choice but to use the cave as a toilet as well. The smell became so foul that the guards kept their distance--making it the ideal location for secret political meetings.
The last stop on the tour was at a great lookout point right on the water that had amazing views of the mountains encompassing the city bowl area. The panoramic view featured Table Mountain, Devils Peak and Lion's Head and was breathtaking. The tours through the prison cells were a bit depressing, but the view was refreshing and the tour guide ended the tour reminding the group that while the history of Robben Island is devastating, it is important to look at the current status of South Africa and be optimistic about the future and the many freedoms that exist today. After all the motto of the museum is: "The Triumph of the human spirit over adversity and suffering."
- Megan Auzenbergs
- Megan Auzenbergs