Cape Town, oh Cape Town. We had been looking forward to the Mother City for so long. The hip cafes, beautiful architecture, and reliable WiFi were much needed. We had a very busy day exploring the tourist sites around town. We hit up the Table Mountain Cable Car first. The cable car has been around since 1929 and offers a rotating floor so visitors get a full 360 degree view of the city during the ride. Table Mountain is 1085 meters high and is one of the oldest mountains in the world, dating back 520 million years ago. Table Mountain was recently named one of the new seven wonders of nature.
We then visited the District Six Museum which commemorates the vibrant community of District Six and the forced removal of thousands of residents after it was declared a white group area in 1966. The Group Areas Act divided urban areas like District Six into separated townships, with the goal of isolating the communities. Over 15 years, over 60,000 people were forcibly removed to townships on the Cape Flats. Homes were demolished before new homes could be built in the townships and basic services like electricity and plumbing were rare. Many people were moved to reservation lands called Bantu lands, which form today’s Eswatini and Lesotho. We also learned about the Pass Laws that mandated that everyone have an identity card dictating their name, ethnicity, religion, etc. At any time, police could raid their home demanding to see their pass. If they didn’t have the pass on their person, they would be breaking the law and pay a fine or serve jail time.
“It struck me that our history is contained in the homes we live in, that we are shaped by the ability of these simple structures to resist being defiled.” Achmat Dangor
Robben Island is the home of the prison for political prisoners including Nelson Mandela during Apartheid. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The island has served many purposes including a military base, home of the Khoi San people, a leper colony, and the prison. We saw Mandela’s prison cell and learned about how the wardens tried to isolate the prisoners by allowing certain privileges to some ethnicities and not others.
“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.” Nelson Mandela
Cape Town marked the end of our Africa adventures. Next up, Mauritius!
Our lovely crew: Mambo (tour guide), Ben (driver), and Dan (cook).