|Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu on Robben Island in 1966|
“On behalf of our family, we’re deeply humbled to stand where men of such courage faced down injustice and refused to yield. The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit,” Obama wrote in the guest book in the courtyard.
Obama had visited Robben Island when he was a U.S senator. This is the first time obama is visiting South Africa as the first black American president.
|US President Barack Obama and his family have toured Robben Island|
Michelle Obama shared her heartfelt thoughts on her tour of Robben Island on her blog the FLOTUS Travel Journal where she narrates her spiritual and impacting journey of Robben Island.“So today, as we toured the island, I couldn’t help but think about how this place must have shaped these leaders. Put yourself in their shoes – all they were doing was fighting to ensure that people in South Africa would be treated equally, no matter what the colour of their skin. And for that, they wound up confined on this remote island, far removed from the world they so desperately hoped to change”.
“It was amazing to see Mandela’ s cell, a tiny room – about 6 feet wide – where he spent 18 of the 27 years he was in prison. He slept on a thin mat on the floor, and when he stretched out to sleep at night, his toes touched one wall, while his head grazed the other. The walls were two feet thick with no decorations, and he was given a bucket to use as a toilet”.
“Yet despite these conditions, Mandela and his fellow prisoners never lost hope. As Mandela once said, “Prison – far from breaking our spirits – made us more determined to continue with the battle until victory was won”. They did their best to get an education while in prison – they read as many books as they could, and some prisoners even got university degrees through correspondence courses. They vigorously debated philosophy, politics, and the direction of the anti-Apartheid movement. They stood up to mistreatment by the prison guards. And they found ways to communicate in secret, such as stuffing notes inside tennis balls that they would pass along during recreation periods”.
Nelson Mandela has set an example and paved the way for many to follow. His struggle for freedom from oppression for the South African people might have been won but it is not over. The youth of South Africa have been given a pedestal and a world platform from which to be the voice and instrument of change. Now it is time for the youth to become the catalysts for change.
· Autshumato, one of the first activists against colonialism
· Dennis Brutus, former activist and poet
· Jerry Ekandjo, Namibian politician
· Nceba Faku, former Metro Mayor of Port Elizabeth
· Petrus Iilonga, Namibian trade unionist, activist and politician
· Langalibalele, one of the first Activists against colonialism
· Mosiuoa Lekota, imprisoned in 1974, President and Leader of the Congress of the People
· Mac Maharaj, former accused at Little Rivonia Trial
· Makana, one of the activists against colonialism
· Nelson Mandela, African National Congress leader and former President of South Africa (first black president)
· Gamzo Mandierd, activist
· Jeff Masemola, the first prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment in the apartheid era
· Amos Masondo, former Mayor of Johannesburg
· Michael Matsobane, leader of Young African Religious Movement. Sentenced at Bethal in 1979; released by PW Botha in 1987.
· Chief Maqoma, former chief who died on the island in 1873
· Govan Mbeki, father of former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki. Govan was sentenced to life in 1963 but was released from Robben Island in 1987 by PW Botha
· Wilton Mkwayi, former accused at Little Rivonia Trial
· Sayed Adurohman Moturu, the Muslim Iman who was exiled on the island and died there in 1754
· Griffiths Mxenge, a South African Lawyer and member of the African National Congress
· Billy Nair, former Rivonia Trialist and ANC/SACP leader
· M. D. Naidoo, a South African lawyer and member of the African National Congress
· John Nkosi Serving life but released by PW Botha in 1987
· Nongqawuse, the Xhosa prophetess responsible for the Cattle Killing
· Maqana Nxele, former Xhosa prophet who drowned while trying to escape
· John Nyathi Pokela, co-founder and former chairman of the PAC
· Tokyo Sexwale, businessman and aspirant leader of the African National Congress
· Walter Sisulu, former ANC Activist
· Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa and leader of the African National Congress
· Setsiba Paul Mohohlo, former APLA unit commander