As international icons go, they don’t come much bigger than Nelson Mandela. So it’s hardly surprising that Robben Island is mainly known as the prison which held our beloved Madiba for 27 years.
But Robben Island is much more than an apartheid prison. For over 500 years, this little nugget of rock has echoed of every significant event that took place on the South African mainland. In the 1500s, the early European seafarers stopped here to stock up on seals and penguins before continuing on their treacherous journey to the East Indies. In the 1600s, the Dutch used it as a place of banishment for unruly ‘citizens’, both European and Khoikhoi. In the 1800s, the British used it as a prison for intransigent Xhosa chiefs who were causing trouble on the eastern Cape frontier. In the 1900s, it was a leper asylum and mental institution. Then it became a military base during World War 2.
Finally, in the early 1960s, the island was used to isolate the political enemies of the apartheid state. These included members of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), the African National Congress (ANC), the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and dozens of other labour organisations and liberation movements. For all of these reasons, Robben Island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.
Yet, despite its long and tragic history, Robben Island is no longer a place of misery and despair. Now run as a museum, the island has transformed itself into a potent symbol of tolerance, forgiveness and triumph over terrible odds.
It has also become a place of pilgrimage and, each year, tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world take the spectacular ferry ride across Table Bay to tour the beautiful but barren island and walk through its infamous prison. It’s an emotional and powerful journey that should be on everyone’s to-do list.
This comprehensive travel guide includes the full story of Robben Island along with all the info a modern traveller could need: detailed maps, colour photographs, route guides and full listings of tours on offer, museums and other places of interest. As an added bonus, the book also contains an exclusive interview with Matlakana Philemon Tefu — a former political prisoner who was incarcerated on the island for 21 years.
Praise for the Southbound World Heritage series:
“These are fantastically comprehensive guides… packed full of information and beautiful photographs, and small enough to slip inside a backpack” – Jane Strode, Daily Sun
“Handy travel companions… these guides may be small but they’re literally jam-packed with information… making these guides holiday must-haves for an informed and more enjoyable trip” – Longevity magazine
“These handy books are accessible for everyone from the lay person to geologists and scientists, answering all your questions regarding these sites” – Saturday Dispatch
“…compact pocket guides packed with info, maps and colourful pictures” – 50/50
“They are a celebration of various aspects of South African culture, including our historical inheritance and the land on which we live” – Diane de Beer, Pretoria News
“There’s this marvellous new collection of pocket guides by Southbound, each highlighting a specific World Heritage Site in South Africa… Easy to use and fun to read, the pocket guides are a must for anyone remotely interested in our country’s heritage” – Independent on Saturday
“These books reveal fascinating parts of our country that many of us aren’t properly aware of. They’d make excellent gifts, singly or collectively, and are great primers for planning a holiday” – Bruce Denhill, The Citizen
“All [eight] of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites are covered, each in a manageable pocket guide which provides a remarkable amount of information for the edification of the serious eco-tourist… comprehensive contents… an extensive amount of information” – Carol Knoll, Environmental Management
“…intensely practical… fantastic series to buy” – Jenny Crwys-Williams, Talk Radio 702
“…these are among the best we have – opinionated and full of personality” – Patricia McCracken, Farmer’s Weekly
112 pages, black and white with colour photo inserts, dimensions: 180×100