Thursday, 9 October 2008

Robben Island

On Wednesday, Dr B took part in a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other (non-white, male) political prisoners were held during South Africa's apartheid era. The attempt to divide race from race went down to the rations that were served to the prisoners - the coloured and Indian prisoners being given more than the black prisoners. "This diet was designed to divide political prisoners along racial lines, but the Indian and coloured prisoners decided to share what they had with the African political prisoners. Our comrades inside this prison refused to be divided on the basis of this diet," said the guide, himself a former political prisoner on Robben Island. He finished the visit to the prison by quoting Ahmed Kathrada (imprisoned for 28 years): "While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering. We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of eveil. A triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness. A triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness."