Robben Island. Home to many ANC political blacks, and also home to Nelson Mandela’s prison. Robben Island is a prison. During Apartheid, black people – some inocent, some guilty went to robben Island. The prison itself was built by the first prisoners who came to Robben Island in 1962. Only one white prisoner went there. During the day prisoners worked in the lime stone quarreys in any conditions.
Yesterday I went to Robben Island. We got taken around with a guide because it is possible to get lost. We drove to the limestone quarreys where we heard about how prisoners for 10 hours of the day had to work in the quarreys either in freezing cold rain or very dry heat. When they wanted to go to the bathroom they went into a cave because there were no bathrooms for the prisoners on the island and even in their cells they did not have a bathroom. They had a bucket.
It is 7 to 11 kl to shore. There were attempts of trying to escape by swimmig or the ocassional raft. No one ever made it. We arrived at the prison where we were taken around by an ex-prisoner. His name was Benjaman Tao. We first went into a cell that was about 40 square ft long and 15 square ft wide and they used to squeeze 40 people inside. This section of the prison which held many more of these rooms was called section B. People in section B got 20 rand each week where they could by things like extra food and things to help there hygiene. We then went to a court yard where prisoners who were in section C stayed in part of the daytime while they hammerd rocks. The other part was spent in the quarreys. This is the section that Nelson Mandela was in. Section C was not allowed to talk. They only got 10 rand a week and stayed in cells smaller than my dad. Also the prisoners called the prison Robben Island University because they learned so much from each other. They passed news papers back and forth when they went to the bathroom in the cave. They would leave a newspaper or a note something like that. Finally we came to Nelson Mandela’s cell. Which as I said before was smaller than my dad. By the time Mandela came out of prison he was able to make a garden and they had put up tennis courts.
I also want to tell about how Benjaman got into jail. He was protesting during the 76 riots when his girlfriend got shot dead. He fled South Africa and went to Angola and East Germany along with many others. They trained to fight and one day while he was on a mission he got caught and was sentenced to high treason.
Robben Island was a very interesting and emotional experience for me. Please leave comments on how you feel about it.