About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Robben Island

An island in Table Bay, not far from Cape Town, Robben Island was originally used by the Dutch administration in the 17th and 18th centuries as a prison for political prisoners. Later it became a haven for the chronically sick. From the 1960s Robben Island became the site of a prison where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners, notably anti-apartheid activists, were incarcerated. Conditions in the prison were poor but after a hunger strike in 1966 these were improved. Many of the inmates studied while imprisoned. Mandela and several others were moved to Pollsmoor on the mainland in 1982. After the last prisoners left in 1996 the island was converted into a heritage site and has become a major tourist attraction.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.