A symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over diversity, suffering and injustice.
Located on the West Coast Way Cape Route Way
This tiny island just a few kilometres out from Table Bay is always inextricably linked with Nelson Mandela, but its history starts many years before he was incarcerated there with other ANC stalwarts.
In the late 1600 ‘s a mad named Autshumato, leader of a group of Khoikhoi and two others were imprisoned there by Jan van Riebeeck. Various leaders of the resistance to Dutch rule in the East Indies found themselves on Robben Island as did Islamic priests for sharing the teachings of Islam to Dutch-owned slaves.
In later years the island was used as a place to incarcerate British military deserters, murderers and criminals, and a hospital was built to house mentally and terminally ill people and lepers.
The climate was harsh and the conditions were brutal, but from every era, stories exist that bare testament to the strength of the human spirit.
The Robben Island experience begins at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront. This is where you board the ferry for the trip to the island. Once on the island, you will be taken on a guided bus tour past the Mosque, military battlement, shipwrecks, houses and a church before returning to the main prison block.
Here you will do a guided walk around the prison and hear stories of Mandela, stand in his cell and get a hint of the long years he endured, imprisoned but with a clear view of Cape Town, just out of reach.
The island affords spectacular views of Table Mountain, it is worth getting a photo or two from this vantage point.
A shop selling memorabilia, books and snacks is close to the dock and can be visited before your return.
This trip is a sobering one, but also a triumphant story and a reminder of Nelson Mandela’s words that apply to everyone.
“Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”
On your return to the V&A, do visit the Breakwater Prison on Jetty 1. This is where prisoners were held before they were put on the boat for the island. Various rooms and cells can be seen and heartbreaking letters and other artefacts from those dark days.
Robben Island Museum is located on the West Coast Way Cape Way Route
Open 7 Days a week
Distance from Cape Town: 3.6km
Where: Nelson Mandela Gateway, V&A Waterfront
Contact: +27 (0)21 413 4200 | [email protected]