Robben Island Circumnavigation
City Robben Island
State/County/Province Cape Town
Country South Africa
Name Cape Long Distance Swimming Association
Month: October - April
Water Temp: 11-18°C (52-64°F)
Robben Island is an island in Table Bay, 6.9K west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for "seal island". Robben Island is roughly oval in shape and flat and only a few meters above sea level.
Robben Island held President of South Africa and Nobel Prize Laureate Nelson Mandela and past South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, alongside many other political prisoners, spent decades imprisoned during the apartheid era. Among those political prisoners was current South African President Jacob Zuma who was imprisoned there for ten years.
Since the end of the 17th century, Robben Island has been used for the isolation of mainly political prisoners. The Dutch settlers were the first to use Robben Island as a prison. Its first prisoner was probably Harry die strandloper in the mid-17th century.
The island was also used as a leper colony and animal quarantine station.
When the Dutch arrived in the area in 1652, the only large animals on the island were seals and birds, principally penguins. In 1654, the settlers released rabbits on the island in order to provide a ready source of meat for passing ships. The modern day island is an important breeding area for penguins after a new colony established itself there in 1983. The colony has grown to 13,000 and is now the third biggest for the species. The penguins are easy to see close up in their natural habitat and are therefore a popular tourist attraction.
- Time line
- UWC Mayibuye Robben Island Archives
- Documentary about Apartheid and Robben Island
- Robben Island Museum
- Chief Maqoma imprisoned on island
- The Robben Island of Johannesburg, Constitution Hill
- Comprehensive list of prisoners held at Robben Island Prison during apartheid
- News 24 article, Robben Island "a lonely place", The once notorious Robben Island penal colony risks ghost town status as residents start leaving. March 17, 2008
- A background to Makana,
- The Robben Island Singers, a group of ex-prisoners who preserve Apartheid era songs and stories