Thursday, March 23, 2006

An old friend and Robben Island

Yesterday I went to Robben Island - Afrikaans for Seal Island. Durin g the Apartheit regime it was a maximum security prison for opponents of the regime where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison.
On the way to the island I saw an old friend again. The cargo boat MSC. I first met her in Dar Es Salaam where she was lying on the beach in the sun - stranded. And when I came to Cape town I was sitting in the taxi from the airport and saw her already here waiting for me.
Robben island was quite interesting because we were shown around by a former political prisoner who told us some interesting details about the regime. For example was the classification of people in different races inspired by Hitler's book "Mein Kampf". There were three classes - white, coloured or asian and black. The differentiation between black people and coloured was not always easy so the pencil test was introduced. A pencil was put in the hair of a person. If it stayed in the curly hair and didn't fall down the person was obviously coloured or black. Next he had to shake his head and if the pencil fell out of his hair he was a coloured, else black and with no rights.
On the island are only 17 seals left but thousands of Penguins. And I thought I spotted an elk but I found out those guys are called fallow deer.

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