The Fight for Freedom and End to Apartheid

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Our tour guide and ex-political prisoner, Mncedisi

IMG_4727 So we got put in jail once again, inmates! I’d like to call this post Jail House Rock II, after our first visit to a jail, in Christchurch, NZ, however, this is serious – it is Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid. IMG_4728 This jail is called Robben Island, sort of like the Alcatraz of South Africa.  This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which I will explain in my next post.  If you have ever heard of Nelson Mandela, this is the prison where he was kept. Our tour guide at the prison was an actual ex-political prisoner who rallied with Mandela for rights for black and colored people. This is how they refer to the black people and people of mixed races – even today.  Black and colored people refer to themselves that way, too. IMG_4770 The fight for freedom was kind of similar to the African Americans’ fight for freedom with Martin Luther King. IMG_4791 IMG_4792 This island has been used for many things – refuge island, asylum, a leprosy colony, and most recently, a prison. IMG_4786 Our tour guide, Mncedisi, was in prison for five years in Robben Island because he participated in a demonstration with his school friends against apartheid when he was 19 years old. IMG_4756 He taught us about his time spent in jail. All the prisoners were sorted into classes, A, B, C, or D class prisoners, depending on how they cooperated with prison officials. IMG_4768 The higher your rating (A being the highest), the more letters you can send home. And the more letters and visitors you can receive from your family and the more privileges you would get. IMG_4803 IMG_4778 Mncedisi said that they could not say anything about prison life in the letters he wrote to his family and his sister asked him why his letters were so boring. IMG_4800 Did you know that political prisoners were treated worse than criminals? How crazy is that?

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Nelson Mandela’s Cell – for 18 years of 27 years, he was in this cell on a blanket on the floor

I will tell you one more story about Robben Island: The prisoners had to mine limestone for no reason other than hard labor for punishment.  The sun reflected off the rocks and gave many prisoners medical problems, including Nelson Mandela, who was never able to shed another tear because of the damage to his eyes. IMG_4801 Years after Mandela got released, they had a reunion of 1000 ex-prisoners on Robben Island  where Mandela placed one rock in the spot shown below and every prisoner placed a rock there after him, too, from the limestone area, one on top of another — to form a pile, which is still standing today.  Mandela didn’t plan to put the rock there, but now the pile represents the diversity of the people of South Africa and their fight for freedom and equality.IMG_4737 IMG_4800 Well this just about wraps it up for Robben Island! IMG_4811 Except — Look for More Posts from your Junior World Trek Reporter.

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Thanks, Mncedisi!

Keep Calm and Travel the World IMG_4807

2 thoughts on “The Fight for Freedom and End to Apartheid

  1. really robben island is an educational place keep calm and tavell around that world we miss you here in Capetown hope to see you guys again

    regards
    boyson.

    Like

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