Monday, September 12, 2016

Robben Island, a pilgrimage to freedom

Robben Island, a pilgrimage to freedom

Dutch rule the South Africa for 160 years. The population consist of 80% blacks, 8% whites, 3% Indians and rest the ethnic and coloured. Life the Dutch and Whites, the blacks have also moved here from other parts of the continent. As large part of the country is dessert but it is very rich in minerals like plutonium, gold, iron ore, coal, etc. 27% of the income of the country comes from the mining. 80% gold of the world is produced here.

Dutch were the first foreigners, established their trade colonies and then became the ruler for 160 years before being replaced by the British.

Robben island situated some 12 Kms away from the Table Bay was a Dutch Prison. The hardcore criminals were moved to the island in jail. Later it was used as hospital for the people suffering from leprosy and mental illness. Leprosy was considered a contagious disease, therefore the couples were kept in separation to prevent the birth of new generation carrying the disease. They were kept away from the society to die on the island.

The place was used as a military base during the Second World War.

The criminals and political prisoners were kept in the jail of the island. There is a lime stone quori inside, where the prisoners were working with primitive equipments or breaking the stones by hand. But this place become the school for the freedom fighters. Each one to teach one. They were working in the quori and looking at the Table Mountain with a hope that one day they will get freedom from the racism. The resting Cave become their meeting place where most of the the Constitutional provisions were discussed. Due to working without safety equipments, many prisoners were suffered from the eyes and lungs disease. The father of South Africa Nation, Mr. Nelson Mandela (Prisoner 466/64) was one of the political prisoner over here. He stayed in this jail for 18 years of his stay of 28 years in jail. He lost his tears gland while working in such a harsh condition for many years. His jail room is only 6'x6', where he lived with a rough sleeping mattress, one plate, one bowl, one spoon and a bucket to use as toilet.

The prisoners were allowed to take bath twice in a week, on Wednesday and Saturday. They were allowed to wash their clothes once in a week. Their was discrimination in treating and serving the prisoners. They were divided into Coloureds and Bantas. The blacks/bantas were given bad treatment, more punishment and bad food. The whites were served with rice, bread, jam and the Blacks with bad food porridge. There was a Hindu prisoner, Billy Nair (69/64) sentenced for 20 years (26/2/64 to 27/2/84) for a crime of Subotasie.

He lead the path of equality, freedom from racism from this land. His wrote his famous book "Long walk to Freedom" from this place. The Stones in front of the lime quori is a symbol of peace and unity of the country. On the day of freedom from the jail, they all assembled here, Me. Mandela lifted one stone and came forward and put on the land with respect. All other did the same and symbolise them the unity and peace of the country.

What was the greatness of this man? He forgave all and made South Africa free from racism. He didn't act against the whites who have torchered them. They made South Africa a Rainbow nation. No more blacks, no more whites. No Africans, no bontas, no indian. They are free and one .

Mr. Mandela was released from the jail in 1990. Others political prisoners were released in 1991. The criminal prisoners were shifted to other jails in 1994. And then the place has been converted into a Museum. It has been declared as World Heritage site in 1999. And the guides are the Ex Political Prisoners!

Cape Town
12 September 2016

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