Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Robben Island, South Africa

Robben Island is 10 km (6 miles) from Cape Town.  The small island is 3,3 km (2,1 miles) long and 1,9 km (1,2 miles) wide.

Dutch settlers first used the island as a prison in the mid-17th century.

In 1845 it became a leper colony and it eventually became an animal quarantine station.

In 1961, South Africa's Apartheid government used the island as a prison for both convicted criminals and political prisoners.

This is where Nelson Mandela served 18 of 27 years before the end of Apartheid.  He, along with Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma, are former prisoners who became President of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela's cell 

In 1991, the maximum security prison for political prisoners closed.  Then in 1996 the medium security prison was closed.

In 1999, Robben Island was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are three tours a day from Cape Town.  The 3,5 hour tours start with a ferry ride from the V&A Waterfront.  The tour guides are former prisoners who are able to share their personal experiences.

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