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Robben Island & The Aquarium

all seasons in one day 17 °C

Today the weather was changeable so we headed down to the V&A Waterfront and managed to get tickets to Robben Island - where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years.
The 30 minute catamaran to the island was rough to say the least - Mish lost her tan temporarily but soon recovered when we arrived.
We first went on a bus tour around the edge of the rugged island which included a lime quarry where Nelson and other prisoners had to dig for hours a day in searing heat - as a result Mandela has eye problems (due to the glare of the sun on the lime) and respiratory problems (caused by the dust).
In fact we were informed that flash photography by journalists is banned at Mandela news conferences as it is very painful to his eyes.
Beside the quarry was a pile of stones - it was here after release that Mandela suddenly set down one stone and the other former prisoners followed creating a stack which has been untouched ever since.
There we were given an insiders tour from a former political prisoner who spent over 10 years there. It was really interesting to hear someone talking with real passion about the place and what went on.
The apartheid regime tried to cause divisions with prisoners by giving Asian prisoners shoes, long trousers, shirts etc and giving very little to the black prisoners but the black prisoners under Mandela's guidance could see that the plan was divide and conquer.
They also had a one teacher one learner set up whereby someone who was educated and politically minded would be allocated someone who wasn't to educate them as they felt that one day the black people would gain equality and they needed to be educated if they ever hoped to play a role in government.
The former prisoner said that the rest of the world are owed a lot of thanks for their part in bringing down the regime through sanctions & boycotts.
He also said that Mandela taught them that you must forgive those who have wronged you and not do onto them what they have done on you so he was happy to go into partnership with the Afrikaners so everyone would have a better future.
It was really touching how forgiving both the prisoner and Mandela were - especially when you consider how tiny the cells were that they spent so many years in.
When we got the (now calmer) boat back to the Waterfront we headed to the Aquarium which was really impressive - you can see a few of the photos for yourself.
We then headed out to Hussar Grill which is only about 50 yards away from us and had some of the best steaks ever washed down by 2 bottles of South African wine. While there I had biltong for starters which is dried cured meat, while Mish had carpaccio of Springbok which was also tasty.
We then went back to the apartment stuffed and slightly merry!

Posted by cooneys 07:41 Archived in South Africa

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