On Monday, the replica of Nelson Mandela’s Robben Island prison cell was launched at spine road high in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain. The replica was designed by Moonlight Films in conjunction with Robben Island mMuseums and will be travelling to 14 schools. The travelling monument is aimed at improving the national identity and citizenship of the youth. The event was attended by numerous struggle stalwarts, including Ahmed Kathrada, Dennis Goldberg, and Eddie Daniels. Also in attendance was minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaga and deputy minister, Fatima Chohan.
Speaking to VOC, Chohan explained that the replica is a means to educate children about the many opportunities that they have been afforded.
She said that in viewing the replica, students will be granted an understanding of life prior to the fall of Apartheid and will subsequently gain a sense of appreciation of the efforts of those who came before.
“We wanted them to have a real reminder that the freedoms that they have were not free, so when they go to the cell and look at the small hokkie that a man spent 27 years in, they will realize that the sacrifices that were made for them came at a price,” Chohan stated.
Describing education as the “great equalizer”, Chohan said that the only means through which socioeconomic inequality can be addressed is through education.
Speaking at the event, minister Gigaba appealed to pupils to have pride in the countries national symbols and to hold onto bonds of respect and honouring the elderly.
“When you sing your national anthem and see your national flag it must remind you of who you are and how you are defined by others.”
Gigaba further encouraged students to walk in the footsteps of the nations heroes and remain humbled in light of great personal success.
“The world has honoured them; people have sung songs, composed poetry, and written books about them, but there is not announce of arrogance in them,” he added.
Given the plight of many communities on the Cape Flats, he urged the youth to remain focussed and work toward achieving great things, both for themselves and the country.
“An extra ordinary person is an ordinary person who does extra ordinary things, and most of the time they are not aware that what they are doing will leave the mark of ages.”
Upon visiting the replica of the cell of his fellow comrade, Kathrada explained that seeing the replica brought back memories of life on the Island.
He, however, asserted that while the past cannot be forgotten, South Africans as a nation should look toward the future and continuously improve the structures of society.
While he said that he understands and stands in solidarity with protesting university students, he urged them to refrain from destroying university property.
“One can understand the impatience and demands of our younger people, but we are not in government and we don’t know the budget. But, at the same time, we solute the courage of our younger people, our only wish being that they do not burn schools and destroy books.”
In response to the presence of the replica on the schools grounds, principal of Spine Road High, Riyaadh Najaar, said that the replica would assist in conscientizing pupils about the struggles of the past.
Najaar added that he hoped that the replica of a symbol of the atrocities of the Apartheid system would encourage the youth to remain determined to work toward a better future.