Wed, 17 Jul 2019

The Robben Island Museum hosted a 12 hour night vigil this week to mark the conclusion of a year dedicated to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the births of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.

The day also marked the fifth anniversary since the death of Mandela, who died on December 5, 2013. It also marks the birthday of former PAC leader Robert Sobukwe.

The museum also celebrated the lives of other struggle stalwarts such as Harry Gwala and Fikile Bam.

"For many of us, the opportunity to reflect on our liberation heroes in this way is a once in a lifetime opportunity," museum spokesperson Morongoa Ramaboa said.

"All in attendance paid homage to different icons with a heart-warming candle lighting ceremony."

The museum welcomed more than 100 visitors, including ex-political prisoners, faith-based organisations and members of the public. Each candle had the name of a struggle icon around it.

Faith-based organisations participated in a pilgrimage of silent reflection to the maximum security prison, where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of behind bars, and to Sobukwe House where the PAC leader was held in isolation.

"As the Robben Island Museum, it is our duty to share a true reflection of the island's history, including that of those incarcerated and banished for their ideologies," Ramaboa said.

"Our [former] president asked us not only to remember the past, but to build a future, as we celebrate the centennial year."

Last week, the Ex-Political Prisoners' Association (EPPA) held a media briefing, where it slammed the museum, demanding better management for the site which once housed South Africa's most prominent struggle veterans.

Members said the museum was neglecting its struggle heroes, and that some parts of the island were not being kept in shape.

The EPPA said its members would embark on a hunger strike until their demands were met.

However, the museum hit back at the EPPA, saying it had not sent any official communication to their management team.

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