Visiting Robben Island in South Africa

South Africa is Robben Island,
South Africa is Robben Island,

 

A past president of the Miami Dade Urban Banker Association, entrepreneur Antonio Junior is involved in a number of Miami-based enterprises including fuel-reclaiming service provider Florida Conservation Inc., consultant service provider Diversified Management International, and social conscious lifestyle concept 7one. Outside of work, Antonio Junior enjoys traveling and one country he has visited is South Africa, a trip taken at the time when Nelson Mandela was president.

A memorable place to visit in South Africa is Robben Island, a rocky outcrop standing roughly 30 meters above sea level across Table Bay from Cape Town. The island was initially inhabited by a diverse range of wildlife such as seals, penguins, and birds. It is well known as the place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in incarceration when a maximum security prison for South Africa’s political prisoners was operated there.

What is not widely known is that it began as a place of incarceration 350 years ago when a member of a now extinct indigenous group was banished there by colonial settlers. The island has also been used as a grazing ground and been home to an outpost, a mental hospital, and a post office.

There is a three and a half hour tour of the museum on Robben Island which starts in Cape Town, followed by a 30 minute ferry ride to the island. Most often, former political prisoners guide visitors around the prison facility sharing personal experiences of their time spent there. Mandela’s cell can be seen, which is about seven feet square. A 45 minute bus tour around the island showcases its historic locations including the mental hospital, leper colony, and military base.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is a symbol of hope, justice, and self-sacrifice.

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