Grade 12 History Outing to Robben Island

On Tuesday, May 3, the Wynberg Girls’ grade twelve History class was given the opportunity to go on an excursion to Robben Island. This was a much anticipated outing for students and teachers alike, as few of the girls had ever been to Robben Island, despite the fact that it is only a 35-minute boat ride away. The girls were very excited and boarded the boat; after quickly finding their seats, the journey to Robben Island began. The view of the island from the boat gave the girls some perspective as to how big Robben Island actually is.

After arriving at the island, the girls were shown to the tour busses where they met their tour guides. The bus tour was an insightful experience; one of the best parts about the tour was, in fact, that we were reminded that Robben Island was more than just a prison, it was first an island occupied by settlers. To be reminded of this and to learn more about the island’s history with the leprosy disease and its role in World War II was fascinating.

Once our bus tour of the island was complete, the girls were given time at the store to stop and eat lunch. We were greeted by the most stunning view of Table Mountain and were thankful for the beauty of our city. This short time gave us a moment to look around and really take in the nature of the island.

The next stop on our list was the tour of the prison itself. After our lunch break, we were fortunate enough to be led on our tour by a former prisoner of Robben Island who had been there during the Apartheid legislation. His ability to share his experiences with us moved the girls and gave us a deeper appreciation for the freedoms that we often take for granted. Our guide’s insight from his time spent at Robben Island truly gave us an eerie feel as we could now see and clearly imagine what life must have been like within those prison walls. The guide was well-spoken and answered all of our questions clearly and thoroughly.

What struck the girls most during our tour was the fact that our children may not have the privilege to be given the same opportunity and experience as us in terms of the guided tour led by past-prisoners. This realisation helped to put into perspective the true value of the experience that we were being given. We took in all of the new information that the guides gave us. It was fascinating to hear of the stories that we are not able to find in our school textbooks and to see years of History in front of our eyes.

All in all, the experience was unforgettable; the grade twelve History class has been given a new perspective on the Apartheid content and we are very grateful to the school and to Ms van Wyk for the opportunity and for organising this History excursion. We have learnt lessons that we are sure to never forget.

Ceara Mullin

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