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Nelson Mandela International Day | Take Action! Inspire Change

July 18th, 2017, by Katherine Watts

Nelson Mandela Day 2017

In May, staff from African Travel, Inc. and Lion World Travel had the opportunity to visit Robben Island in South Africa. Located nine kilometers from the coast of Cape Town, Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is most infamously known for detaining many political prisoners from 1961-1991, including Nelson Mandela who spent 18 years of his 27-year prison sentence there.

It was an eye-opening visit to Robben Island, where we learned how many political prisoners were often kept in separate areas of the island to prohibit contact with other prisoners, their letters (received and sent) were controlled and any content that was deemed unacceptable would be cut or blacked out. There was also a uniform class system based on racial classification – Indian, colored or black. Indian and colored prisoners were given long pants and socks and black prisoners were given shorts and no socks. Meals were also based on race with the black prisoners receiving only maize meal and the least amount of meat or fish.

A censored letter


The difference between meals for B and C diets

The visit to Robben Island really puts into perspective the commitment and fight for human rights and development by South Africa’s freedom fighters. Thirteen years into his incarceration at Robben Island, Nelson Mandela was offered to be released on certain conditions. He refused. He did not want to be released with any conditions and so he spent another 14 years in prison before being released unconditionally in 1990.

Nelson Mandela's cell

Today, July 18th, marks Nelson Mandela’s birthday and is also recognized as Nelson Mandela International Day. This year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has dedicated this year’s day to Action Against Poverty. After visiting Robben Island and learning more about the sacrifices Mandela and many others made in order to change the world for the better, we ask ourselves, what are we doing to make the world a better place?

At African Travel, Inc., we are very passionate about supporting and working with organizations that work to develop local communities and leave behind a positive impact. These organizations include: The Amy Foundation, Uthando and ME to WE. Learn more about our #AfricanTravelCares projects and how you can help on this Mandela Day.


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