Robben Island, South Africa

posted Dec 19, 2010, 9:51 AM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Dec 25, 2010, 7:38 AM ]
We had lunch with the Kirkpatrick family from Saskatoon who are also on a World Tour.  We shared great stories and will meet up with them again in Thailand in January and also with the Neufelds and we are looking forward to that.
We really were excited to do this tour because this is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years.  It came to 500 Rand for the 3 of us.  We had to book on line and print off the tickets which is difficult when you are travelling without a printer.  We got the front desk to print off the tickets for us.  You had to meet at the Gateway at the V & A Waterfront in Capetown.  You have to be there in advance because the ferry that takes you out there will not wait for you.  It is about a ½ hour boat trip out there and then you climb onto a bus and go for a 45 minute tour around the island.  It would all have been very interesting I am sure but the 1st guide had such a strong accent we could not understand about 50% of what he was saying and I am usually good with accents.  After that tour we got off of the bus and got another guide for the inside tour of the prison.  This was a prison where all the prisoners were black and they were all political prisoners, which were against the White government at the time while Apartheid was still in place.  The man that was a tour guide for us was a member of the ANC – African National Congress and had crossed back into South Africa from Botswana without a pass apparently and was jailed 7 years for this.  He was put in detention for 6 months where the torture was unthinkable and then he was later moved to Robben Island.  He was not subjected to hard labour like Nelson Mandela was because hard labour was abolished in the late 70s.He was a bit easier to understand but I was still missing about 40% of what he was saying. 

In the inside of the prison we saw where Nelson Mandela’s cell was and it was about 7’ by 7’ with no toilet or sink, they had to use the bucket system to dispose of their waste.  He had to work in the rock quarry with no shoes and only prison shorts to wear.

At the end of the tour you walk back to the boat and it takes you back to Capetown.  The whole tour takes roughly 3 ½ hours to complete.  I would not highly recommend this tour because you may or may not get a guide that is easy to understand or not.  It is sort of a pilgrimage kind of like going to Auschwitz; it is just something that everyone should do if given the chance.  I felt that there should have been a museum with allot more information given out to people to inform them more of prison conditions, reason for such long sentences and the basic injustice and lack of human rights that existed.  This Island tour could evolve into a whole lot more.
When we got off the Susan Kruger Boat from Robben Island we were greeted with 4 sea lions sunning themselves on the deck.  They were so cute and we sat and watched them for quite a while and we could have touched the one if we wanted but it is always better not to touch the wildlife. 
 We walked back up to the Wharf Mall area and found a sign post that had different cities around the world and how far they are from Capetown and Vancouver was the farthest place in the world from Capetown, so in our minds Capetown will be the farthest place that we will get to on the map from Saskatoon.  We ended up going to a movie - Megamind, we miss going to movies, we have not seen one in a theatre for 3 months and I miss the whole ritual of popcorn and filling my face and seeing the movie on the big screen.