This was a project I had to do back in form 6 (as though that was so long ago...)Rivonia, Pretoria and then to Robben island,
Seven of us- the promised ones, so now I know that I can- begin to hope,
But we had better learn to cope, with rations of mealies and sips of coffee, apartheid to make sure my daily bread is taken from me, a life sentence, they try, thinking they could cure me- of this sickness. This eternal, internal, uncontrolled weakness, for my stolen rights, to turn against countless wrongs that turn themselves into the frowns, of my children’s children. Because this system filled them- with hopelessness locked inside melanin, locked inside the adrenalin that fuels me to dream, and though right now I just might feel- powerless, I must never let this cold arrest-get the better of my passions, I ride on the wings of the ANC and so my mind is fashioned- for freedom. We come with clenched fists to deliver a blow to their souls, freedom! Power! Amandla!, For the people, we stand bold. Four hundred and sixty-six, slash sixty-four, political, physical, prisoner, but mentally secure. Long labouring hours we spend working in this quarry, days that take years to end, but all this only adds to our story. Freedom chants, call and response, booming from cell to cell, Sell my liberty for your culture? Never! So naturally I rebel.
The island becomes a University, a place for universal thought, political ideologies shared and new strategies are sought. Each man having his story to tell, we are all lecturers and students, with our own faculty and curriculum, as warders would watch our movements. Family comes occasionally, but my mother, she soon died, my wife being watched by the police, so now she’s being forced to hide. June 16th 1976, the school children protested, by September of that very year, some young men were got themselves arrested. They came over to the island, and they put them in isolation, we now feel immense relief, for they are the new revolution. Stories I heard soon enough, the people form solidarity, the campaigning had begun again, now they demand that the government free me. March of 1982, I was told to pack my bags, my wife had been in an accident, and I was taken away by armed guards. “Pollsmoor Prison” he said, when I asked him where we were, but on February 11th 1990, my life was again familiar. Freedom was found.
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find ways in which you yourself have altered."- Nelson Mandela
- Arielle John copyright 2007