Sunday, September 13, 2009

Robben Island

During apartheid, South Africa's national rugby team the Springboks were a symbol of white oppression. Rugby was a white sport while soccer was the preferred sport of black South Africans. But in 1995, newly elected President Nelson Mandela changed that. During the Rugby World Cup finals which were held in Johannesburg, Mandela donned a Springboks jersey as he walked onto the field in front of 65,000 Afrikaners, many who still believed he was a terrorist. But soon the entire stadium was chanting the new president's name. Mandela felt that making South Africans of all colors Springbok fans was one of the first steps in healing the nation.

So it was fitting that 14 years later we would watch the same two teams battle for another trophy, this time the Tri-Nations Championship. Standing in front of the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island watching the jumbotron at 9:00 am, the bar was filled with faces from the new South Africa. People of every color were pulling for the green and gold. Just like in 1995, the Springboks defeated the All Blacks in a thrilling match that went down to the last second.

From one former symbol of white oppression to another. After the game we headed to Robben Island, the political prison were Nelson Mandela, lovingly called Madiba by most South Africans, spent 18 of his 29 years in prison. Just like the Springboks, a past symbol of hate is now a memorial to the strength of the human spirit. Former prisoners give tours of the same cells that used to hold them. The tours are living history as the actors in the drama remind visitors from all over the world of their struggle for freedom.

4 comments:

foster said...

Great lend-in story. Very moving slideshow. It makes the unimaginable become so sadly real. Thanks!

Addie said...

That is a wonderful yet harsh reality of the injustice everywhere!

Addie said...

Hey it's Pe! I really want to tell you guys how excited I am for your visit to the Mother Land. It feels me with pride, admiration, and a bit of jelously because you guys got to see it first...haha. Thanks for the trip to the jail. I'm glad to see that things are changing, since that was the place that held Nelson Mandela, one of our greatest leaders and prisionors. Now, you guys get to stand there peacefully together. Love you guys! Be safe. God speed..

Bett Addams Williams said...

Nelson Mandela, what a man. So powerful that he taught forgiveness too! Thanks for your introduction as well as wonderful pictures!