Learning about history you realize that there are so many things that certain people try to erase for the future to learn. On Monday for the first time I heard the name Robert Sobukwe. In my history class you learn about every other country history but you do not learn about Africa’s story. Being here you learn that there are so many others besides Martin Luther King who sacrificed their own freedom so that we can utilize ours today. Before entering in Robben island, all I heard about was Mandela in Africa, but never Sobukwe.
Before I enter into talking about ‘Devils camp’ we first had to take a nice rocky boat trip just to get to Robben island. Of course there were some who was not feeling the waves, and the tilting of our boat, *cough cough”
I myself got the joy of riding with the captain, I wish I could post videos. I was with the captain until we reached the island. I was delighted it was my first boat ride!
As I was riding with the captain he told me stories about him meeting Mandela, and Ahmed. he shared with me how Mandela actual did not enjoy visiting the island he only came back when he was asked to do a personal tour, Ahmed on the other hand loved to, he took it as an overcoming adventure. When we arrived it was cold, the waves were getting bigger and the island was drenched. It made the experience even more amazing, and personal because just imagine when the prisoners were there, and some with shorts on. We took a bus tour where we learned about the living conditions, and how the island came about. Robben Island name originated from the Dutch; Robben means seals. As we drove through the island we stopped at Robert Sobukwe’s house. We learned that the Apartheid feared his knowledge so much that they completely isolated him from the world when he encourage people to burn their passbooks, and march to the police station to turn themselves in. That day 69 people died, the police reacted with guns after the non-armed citizens walked away peacefully, they were shot while their backs were turned. They then put Sobukwe to jail. He was only suppose to be gone for 3 years, that later changed and they secretly sent him off to Robben Island,and forced his family to live there. They give him privileges to wear regular clothing, and to have his own space but he was not allowed to talk to anyone, and none was not allowed to talk to him plus not allowed to go outside the gated fence. He was a highly feared man, he was very intelligent, some of the prisoners said when they were told their leader was on the island they would walk past to see if he was really there, and he would put his hand in the sand and rise his hand up to let the sand flow through his fingers to let them know they are the soil of Africa, and he is still there for them. His best friend which is a white man once said he was there so long, and they had him so isolated from speaking that he was forgetting how to speak.
After spending a long time on the island he was then released but put on serious house arrest, his story ended sad because he later died due to lung cancer but many including myself believed that the government poisoned him that is why they let him go. They did not want him to die under their protection because then it would have been a riot, the same thing with Mandela and the others. If the government would have let them died under their eyes, Africa would have been the biggest riot throughout the entire world, everything would be burnt.
As we continued the tour we met a lovely ex prisoner who currently stays on Robben Island who showed us the way to the sections, and Mandelas cell. He taught us how the blacks were treated worse then the Indians, and Colored’s. Blacks had to wear shorts, others get to wear pants, the blacks get no bread, others get bread, their food was worse , and they were treated like animals, and children. I assume that that is part of why Mandela could not stand to go back. He explained to us that they had to go on hunger strikes to demand to be treated better. Then he showed us section A, where Mandela and the other main political leaders were kept.
As you see there is one bucket, a mat, and 2 blankets. The bucket was his toilet, the mat was his bed, and he was allowed one coffee a day. I hate to look at this picture because it makes me angry but yet it motivates me to become the greatest that ever lived. I am not an African native but I know somewhere down my history I come from this great country. And to see that this man has suffered so harsh just so there can be freedom, peace, and justice it has inspired me in so many different ways, including other leaders like Sobukwe.
After our trip home we decided to go shopping for food, and whatever else we needed. I went to H&M of course, it was a great deal !