Friday, June 16, 2006

Cape Town

Today is National Youth Day, which is the anniversary of the Soweto Uprising in Jo'burg where the students protested being taught in Afrikaans. We started the day walking through the Company Garden, a beautiful area from the British area. South Africa was a British was thrown out of the B.C. during apartheid. South Africa is one of the only places in Africa that imported slaves (from Asia) but did not send any out.

We drove by the One Love project, where Heather worked last summer. South Africa has 43 million people, 34 million black, 3 million colored and 6 million white. The weather was clear and beautiful and we went up to the top of Table Mountain via cable car. Then we went to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront for lunch prior to taking the boat out to Robben Island.

Former prisoners are the tour guides on Robben Island, and many live in houses on the island. We saw some wildlife prior to our prison tour including English Fallow Deer, Jackass Penguins, Ostrich and Bonte Boks (antelope). Our guide was Phineas Poho who was sentenced for 15 years in 1985 for high treason, subversion, sedition and being a member of the ANC. Different groups of prisoners received different food and treatment (to encourage fighting amongst the prisoners).

Robben Island Prison Trivia Facts: The doctor came every Monday but only spent 2 hours with the prisoners. Visitors were allowed once every 6 months and conversations were recorded and could be played back to the prison at large, 1 letter every 6 months 120 words or less in English or Afrikaans only. The worked in the lime quarries. There were hunger strikes in the 1970s which improved conditions.

Dinner tonight was at the Africa Cafe. Each room is decorated differently for parts of Africa / Tribes such as Morocco, Egypt, N'gebede, Xhosa, Zulu and the Boma.

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