Robben Island is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa and the 8th of those eight that we braaied at during the Braai4Heritage Tour. This was also the 40th and final day and braai of the tour. T-Bone steaks were braaied as they are in the form of Africa and thus an appropriately patriotic cut of meat. My first bite was the tip of the T-bone steak, i.e. the part that resembles South Africa. It was pretty good, but then so was the rest of the steak. Journalists from SABC TV news, ETV news, and Die Burger joined us for a pleasant day at “The Residence” which is the former presidential residence on the island and the best place to braai with a view of Table Mountain and Bloubergstrand. The braai facility is not open to the public, but you can see the residence for yourself by going on the Robben Island tour, as it is part of the normal tourist route on the island. The sea was not particularly rough, but the swell was monstrously big, making the boat trip there and back interesting.
A bit about the history and heritage of Robben Island: Since the Dutch settled at the Cape in the mid-1600s Robben Island was primarily used as a prison. African leaders, Muslim leaders from the East Indies, Dutch and British soldiers, civilians, and anti-apartheid activists were all imprisoned on the Island, the best known of these being Nelson Mandela. Former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and current president Jacob Zuma also spent time there during the aprtheid years. But Robben Island was not only used as a prison. It was a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill from 1846-1931. Robben Island was chosen for this purpose because it was regarded as both secure (isolating dangerous cases) and healthy (providing a good environment for cure). As there was no cure and little effective treatment available for these illnesses in the 1800s, Robben Island was also a kind of prison for the hospital patients. Throughout this time, political and common-law prisoners were kept on the Island too. During the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 the island was used as a training and defence station.