• Bitten by the whale watching bug Bitten by the whale watching bug We don’t realise how lucky we are in South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape, to have the mightiest of the marine mammals visit our coastline between every year ...
  • The Whale Trail The Whale Trail The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with ...
  • 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa Combine your trip to South Africa with a relaxing, revitalising visit to a health spa and experience Africa at it's finest. Our favourite 10 Pamper-Perfect Spas in South Africa are ...
  • Locals share their favourite getaways Locals share their favourite getaways We ask 30 local South Africans to share their favourite holiday destinations and getaways with us. From the more popular destinations like Knysna and the Kruger Park to ...
  • The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip hike The Oude Skip walk shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno ...
  • 10 Amazing Game Lodges 10 Amazing Game Lodges South Africa is world renowned for her game reserves and wildlife. The lodges which allow us to experience these in luxury are no less awe inspiring. Our favourites are ...
  • 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town 101 Things to Do with Kids in Cape Town As much as your kids will tell you they can’t wait for the school holidays, the words "I’m bored" inevitably cross their lips. Our "101 things to do with kids in Cape Town" will ...
  • "World's most beautiful Cities" "World's most beautiful Cities" Open space makes Cape Town special. Renowned English sea navigator Sir Francis Drake once referred to Cape Town as the fairest cape in the world. The city houses the ...

Find Accommodation in South Africa
Subscribe to our Feed
Posted on: Friday, 21 May 2010

Robben Island a brief history

Send to Kindle
Robben Island

Robben Island

Robben Island lies approximately 12 kilometers from Cape Town and for the past 400 years this island has had anything but a peaceful history. The island has become synonymous with heartache, despair and a place where people were dumped for various reasons, most of those reasons horrify us today and we often cannot image what it must have been like, what the conditions were for the poor souls shut away from the world, a world they knew existed only 12 kilometers from their own private hell.

Robben Island was inhabited thousands of years ago when there was a walk-way between the Cape Mainland and the island, before the sea covered it. The island took on its sinister reputation in the mid-1600s when the Dutch settled at the Cape. The island was a convenient place to use for Portuguese and English prisoners and soon political prisoners joined the general criminal population already incarcerated there.

Robben Island a brief history

For about one hundred years Robben Island became a quarantine station with a hospital for lepers and the insane. During this time there was little medical help for people who were chronically ill, so the island was put in use to house the chronically ill as well. This all sounds surreal to us today, that you could be exiled to an island with lepers and the insane if you had a chronic illness, but that is exactly what happened.

Robben Island

The only time in history the island was put to a different use was during WW2 when it was a defense and training facility. During the military occupation they improved the water supplying system, built a new power station, erected modern housing and brought in a new boat to for supplies and commuting from the mainland. From 1961 to 1991 it was a maximum security prison for political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and other famous heroes of the struggle.

1994 saw the dawning of a new era for this turbulent island and for all the island today stands as a living memorial to the strength of human will to survive and fight for what they believe in, to fight for freedom from injustice, racism and the suppression of human rights and dignity and to this end the island has been declared a World Heritage Site. In 1996 the last of the criminal prisoners left the island.

People from all over the world come to Robben Island; for many it is a pilgrimage, to stand in silence in this place of great suffering, to acknowledge the horrors of the past and to celebrate the victory of those who fought and died for freedom and to rejoice for those who walked out of the prison as free men.

Robben Island

Robben Island Links:
A collection of sites about Robben Island for those who are interested in learning more:
Visit the official Robben Island Museum website.
Robben Island on SouthAfrica.info
Find Accommodation in Cape Town for your holiday.

 

Robben Island

 

The SA-Venues.com Team

About 

Photographs, posts and articles filed under "The SA-Venues.com Team" are either very old articles (this blog has been going since 2005!), are a combined effort or have been submitted to us by a third party, the name of which is/should be displayed in or below the actual article. Special offers and general event posts are also found here as they are generally a team effort.

Related Posts: