Experiences of a med student with an incurable travel bug.

Robben Island

To add to an already action packed weekend, we went to Robben Island on Sunday. For those of you less familiar with South African history, Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first post-apartheid president, was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 total years of imprisonment. We had a half hour ferry ride to the island, followed by a bus tour to see island landmarks. Prior to becoming home to a prison, Robben Island (“seal island” in Afrikaans) was a leper colony. Few remnants, including a grave yard, remain from this era. The island, which is now a museum, is generally empty save for the cluster of barracks constituting the prison itself and a small town where island employees and their families live. Following the bus tour, an ex-political prisoner led us on a prison tour, describing prison life and showing us the cell where he had resided and the 2m by 2m cell Mandela was confined to for 18 years. It is difficult to imagine how anyone could survive in one of these cells under such conditions for so long, “let alone orchestrate one of the greatest sociopolitical movements of the century.” (M. I., Captain’s Log, April 20) [Plagiarism is strongly discouraged here.]

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