JWU Student Blogs

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Yesterday, we toured Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Today, the island holds no prisoners but the buildings remain intact. Our tour guide was sentenced to the island for 7 years after setting fire to a government building. He was released early after 5 years once Mandela became president in 1994. During the tour, he shared the story of his sentence and his experience in the prison. To think of all the hardship endured by the prisoners was sad and inhumane. Some of them were only allowed to shower twice a week, meals were limited, windows had no panels to help endure strong winds and rain, letters were filtered, and parents didn’t meet their children until they were 18 years old. Although the only people who live on the island today are the staff and their families, the island had an overall eerie feeling. Looking at the old buildings and envisioning what life was like for the prisoners was a very powerful feeling. If it wasn’t for the determination of Mandela and his vision to change South Africa who knows how these people would have ended up.