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Author: Jacques Claassen
Publisher: Randomhouse Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2010
Hardcover, 15x23 cm, 64 pages, throughout colour photos, English, German and French
Nestled in the embrace of Table Bay, not far from the sweeping sands of Bloubergstrand, Robben Island is a haven for sea birds and seals. For centuries, it was also a harsh place of banishment and isolation. This rocky outcrop so close to Cape Town, surrounded by the icy, pounding Atlantic surf that made escape virtually impossible, became a convenient prison for anyone the authorities deemed unsavoury.
These have been lowly convicts and rebellious Khoekhoen to lepers, from members of the Indonesian nobility and imams thought to be inciting mutiny in the East Indies to regal Xhosa chieftains, and later scores of anti-apartheid activists and prominent black leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe. Today, the actual prison building stands deserted and the lime quarry bakes in the midday sun – mute testaments to the indomitable spirit of humanity and the will to endure, silent reminders of injustices that must never happen again.
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