2011-02-25 – Friday Whisper – Robben Island…

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Arriving at Robben Island

Last Sunday, we went to Robben Island to visit the prison where Nelson Mandela was held for more than 27 years (June 13, 1964  – February 11, 1990) along with many other prisoners.
A former prisoner took us on a tour into the prison… He told us how letters to and from their families were censored, how they were allowed only 1 visit every six months, how they had all kinds of suffering…they would be held for years and years before they are released if they stay alive!
All of that was because of the Apartheid; what is Apartheid? It is an official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites, and was practiced between 1958 and 1993.
How did the nonwhites live then? Well, residential areas were segregated, sometimes people were forced to move and relocate into designated areas a resettlement policy. Some houses were even destroyed because they were too close to white areas.
Education, medical care, transportations, civil facilities and other public services were separated and less of a service quality to those of white people.
Black people were not allowed to run businesses in white areas without a permit nor were they allowed to go to those areas without having a pass; they have to have it on them all the time, otherwise they risk to be thrown in jail.
Blacks were excluded from acquiring land in white areas, were paid lower wages and most of them were stripped of their passports.
Because all of this, revolutions started… Peaceful demonstrations would be fiercely confronted; people would be beaten, killed, and thrown in jail for years.
I don’t understand how a normal human being can do all this to his fellow human being just for the mere fact that this latter has a different race, color, religion or background… How a human being, when he gets the power of change, chooses to destroy others’ lives instead of saving them… I don’t understand what is it that happens to a human being’s mind once he gets to a powerful position? What is the phenomenon that takes place in the brain? I don’t understand how he can make a child’s life miserable where he can make it joyful! I don’t understand how when he can make the World a better place, he rushes and makes it worst!
Apartheid denied human beings the basic rights of humanity… and those who advocated for it are most probably six feet under now…so it really didn’t help them live longer and I’m sure they would have enjoyed their lives better if they lived fairly!
According to Wikipedia, “In 1973, the United Nations adopted the Apartheid Convention which defines apartheid and even qualifies it as a crime against humanity which might lead to international criminal prosecution of the individuals responsible for perpetrating it.”
By 1993, the Apartheid was abolished in South Africa and today it is a country where all people are equal and have the same rights…but sadly Apartheid is still being practiced somewhere else in the world: Against Palestinians… Would the United Nations remember its stand in 1973?
Former President Jimmy Carter and author of “Palestine Peace not Apartheid” said: “Prosecution of Palestinians is one of the worst examples of human rights abuse in history”.
Susan Nathan, a Jewish author, in her book “The other side of Israel” describes her journey when she decided to live in Tamra with the Palestinians (called Israeli Arabs) who still live in the State of Israel. She believes that Israel  “is a state that promotes a profoundly racist view of Arabs and enforces a system of land apartheid between the two populations”.
Nelson Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
You can’t ask for peace when you don’t give justice…and you can’t realize justice when human being rights are being stripped everyday….
Rania Hammoud
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Nelson Mandela’s Cell# 466/64

Mandela’s garden where he wrote his biography

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