A Solemn Visit to Robben Island, South Africa
On my first full day in Cape Town, after a long flight from Melbourne via Hong Kong. I planned to visit Robben Island. Famous for its historic prison, it was just a 45 minute boat ride from the beautiful V&A Waterfront. I was concerned about the weather as it can be a little unpredictable and you must book your tickets in advance, as it is very popular. However, I was blessed with perfect weather and departed on time at 9am.
Once there, I met our guide, an ex-prisoner, who takes you through the various parts of the prison, telling the chilling and often disturbing tales of life as a prisoner on Robben Island.
The most famous of the political prisoners to be incarcerated at Robben Island was Nelson Mandela. We visited his cell and learnt much of how apartheid affected prison life with the segregation and appalling mistreatment of Black South Africans. It was a very sombre experience to try and imagine what went on with the last political prisoner leaving as recently as 1991.
All the while touring the island, looking at other various landmarks, I would see the views of the beautiful city of Cape Town – a symbol of freedom – seemingly so close.