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Robben Island Rainbow Dreams

Robben Island Rainbow Dreams

The making of democratic South Africa’s first national heritage Following the birth of democracy in South Africa in 1994, Robben Island, once a symbol of pain, injustice, and closed spaces, became a famous world heritage site and a global symbol of a noble commitment to democracy, tolerance, and human dignity. In the words of Nelson Mandela at the official opening of the Robben Island Museum in 1997, it would forever be a reminder that ‘today’s unity is a triumph over yesterday’s division and conflict’. In the years that followed, however, division and conflict marred the high hopes for this cherished 475-hectare location, leaving a bewildered public at the mercy of disinformation and challenging the dream of creativity, inclusivity, hope and a re-imagined future.

Best Red

  • Product Information
  • Format: 235 x 168
  • Pages: 512
  • ISBN 13: 978-1-928246-29-9
  • Publish Year: Best Red
  • Rights: World Rights

The making of democratic South Africa’s first national heritage Following the birth of democracy in South Africa in 1994, Robben Island, once a symbol of pain, injustice, and closed spaces, became a famous world heritage site and a global symbol of a noble commitment to democracy, tolerance, and human dignity. In the words of Nelson Mandela at the official opening of the Robben Island Museum in 1997, it would forever be a reminder that ‘today’s unity is a triumph over yesterday’s division and conflict’. In the years that followed, however, division and conflict marred the high hopes for this cherished 475-hectare location, leaving a bewildered public at the mercy of disinformation and challenging the dream of creativity, inclusivity, hope and a re-imagined future. Robben Island Rainbow Dreams offers the first intimate, behind-the-scenes account of the ongoing saga of the making of democratic South Africa’s first national heritage institution. In doing so, it draws on the perspectives of historians, architects, visiting artists, ex-political prisoners, residents of the island, and a host of heritage professionals, including perspectives on Mandelarisation and commemorating Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe. Robben Island is a vital part of South Africa’s collective heritage. This account is a timely reminder that democracy depends on an informed and vigilant citizenry to ensure the dream of a collective future.

Epigraph…………………………………………… iii

Preface…………………………………………… ix

Introduction…………………………………………… xi

Acronyms…………………………………………… xix

Editors’ note………………………………………… xxi

Prologue – André Odendaal……………………… 1

PART ONE: DRAFT ONE OF THE MAKING OF THE ROBBEN ISLAND MUSEUM

  1. The liberation struggle as incubator for RIM
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 11
  2. UWC’s Mayibuye Centre: The conceptual base for RIM
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 19
  3. Lobbying and planning: A new South African museums and heritage sector, 1990–1994
    André Odendaal…………………………………. 28
  4. Defining the vision: ‘The triumph of the human spirit’
    Opening address by Ahmed Kathrada at Esiqithini, The Robben Island exhibition,
    South African Museum, 26 May 1993……… 37
  5. The mandate: Cabinet’s decision on the future of the island, 1994–1996
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 43
  6. Throwing open the prison doors, 1 January 1997
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 49
  7. Official launch of RIM by Nelson Mandela, 24 September 1997
    Address by Nelson Mandela…………….. 62
  8. Consolidation, commemoration, celebration: On the way to UNESCO World
    Heritage Site status, 1998–2000
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 66
  9. Putting in place building blocks for the future
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 78
  10. A dirty tricks campaign unfolds, 2001
    André Odendaal with Lynette Maart and Ashley Forbes ………………………….. 90
  11. The pressure on RIM intensifies
    André Odendaal…………………………….. 97
  12. The rupture, July 2002
    André Odendaal with Lynette Maart…… 102
  13. Downward spiral of an institution and its vision
    André Odendaal…………………………… 111

PART TWO: FOUNDATIONS FOR PERMANENCY

  1. Narrative design and memory-making as healing modality: The ethos of early RIM
    education and public programming
    Deirdre Prins‑Solani……………………… 125
  2. Creating a new generation of heritage and museum leaders: The inception of the
    Robben Island Training Programme
    Khwezi ka Mpumlwana and Gerard Corsane ………………………………………………………. 135
  3. From Mayibuye Centre to the UWC/Robben Island Mayibuye Archives
    Anthea Josias……………………………….. 150
  4. Signature in the city: Building the Nelson Mandela Gateway Building
    Lucien le Grange………………………….. 161
  5. Preparing for South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site
    Juanita Pastor………………………………. 167
  6. Challenges in preventative conservation: Artefacts as a means of triggering memory
    and a process of healing
    Irene Mafune………………………………… 177
  7. Conservation management planning and Robben Island’s layered history
    Harriet Deacon…………………………….. 182
  8. Conserving the island’s environment
    Shaun Davis………………………………… 187
  9. An ex-political prisoner’s memories of living and working on Robben Island
    Lionel Davis………………………………… 195
  10. Building a new community on the island: The Robben Island Village Association
    Llewellyn Damon and Rabia Damon………………….. 201
  11. Making the intangible tangible: The first tour guides and the social memory of
    Robben Island
    Vanessa Mitchell…………………………… 209
  12. Appeasing the ancestors: Art and culture as a way of giving meaning to RIM
    Ruth Carneson…………………………….. 214

PART THREE: EXHIBITIONS AND MEMORY‑MAKING PROCESS IN A SACRED SPACE

  1. Memories of working in RIM’s first Exhibitions Unit, 1999–2008
    Gaby Cheminais…………………………… 219
  2. Participation in progress: The story of Robben Island Museum’s Ex-Political Prisoner
    reference groups Roger Meintjes, Nolubabalo Tongo‑Cetywayo, Phumlani Grant Shezi, Gaby Cheminais and Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi ……………. 233
  3. Research Unit experiences in memorialising and archiving Robben Island prisoner memories through oral history
    Noel Solani and Oupa Makhalemele………………….. 243
  4. Journey to Sithebe village: In search of the first political prisoners in Robben Island
    Maximum Security Prison
    Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi, Nolubabalo Tongo‑Cetywayo and  Phumlani Grant Shezi………………………. 250
  5. Restoring dignity to the 12 Robben Island prisoners buried as paupers in Stikland
    Cemetery by the apartheid regime
    Nolubabalo Tongo‑Cetywayo and Madeleine Fullard …………………………………………… 257
  6. The making and demise of the Nelson Mandela Gateway exhibition, 2001–2010
    Mavis Smallberg…………………………… 269

PART FOUR: VOICES AND DEBATES FROM WITHIN

  1. The saint of the struggle: RIM and the debate about deconstructing the Mandela myth
    Noel Solani………………………………….. 283
  2. Pan Africanist and Black Consciousness perspectives: Beneath the surface of the
    Robben Island Museum images
  3. Luvuyo Mthimkhulu Dondolo……….. 300
  4. The role of Robben Island Museum in the transformation of South Africa’s cultural
    landscape after apartheid
    Khwezi ka Mpumalanga and Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi …………………………………….. 309
  5. See the seagull’s fly: Twenty years on – a message to my daughter
    Ashley Forbes ……………………………….. 325

PART FIVE: CURIOUS COINCIDENCES

  1. Fast forward from RIM rupture to state capture
    André Odendaal ……………………………. 335
  2. Mr K and the replica of his cell
    André Odendaal…………………………… 353

Appendix…………………………………………… 358

Endnotes…………………………………………… 361

Select bibliography………………………… 387.

About the contributors…………………………. 399

Index…………………………………………… 40

Neo Lekgotla laga Ramoupi did all his schooling in Ga‑Rankuwa, Pretoria. His degrees up to MA level are from the University of KwaZulu‑Natal, Howard College. He received his PhD from Howard University, USA. He was a researcher in the Heritage and Resources Department at Robben Island Museum from 2000 to 2003. From 2004 to 2006, he was a researcher at SARAP at Howard University. He went on to work at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, SADET, the Department of Basic Education, the Africa Institute of South Africa and – between 2012 and 2017 – the Council on Higher Education. He is currently a senior lecturer in history in the School of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Noel L.Z. Solani completed his primary school education at Zingisa Higher Primary School in Kimberley and then matriculated at Ethembeni High School in Burgersdorp. He obtained his MA from the University of the Western Cape and his PhD from the University of Fort Hare.

He was a staff member of the Robben Island Museum from 1997 to 2003. From 2003 to 2006, he worked for the Department of Education, Pretoria. In 2006, he joined the Nelson Mandela Museum as Senior Manager: Heritage. In 2016, he was a senior researcher at Mzala Nxumalo Centre, Pietermaritzburg. He is currently the director of the Ditsong Museum of Cultural History in Pretoria.

André Odendaal is honorary professor in history and heritage studies at the University of the Western Cape and was founding director of both the Robben Island Museum (1996–2002) and, before that, the Mayibuye Centre for History and Culture in South Africa at the University of the Western Cape (1991–98).

He has a DPhil from Cambridge University and has authored and co‑authored a dozen books on the social history of sport and the history of the liberation struggle in South Africa, with an emphasis on the African roots of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. His books include Vukani Bantu! (1984), The Story of an African Game(2003), The Founders (2012), Cricket and Conquest (2016), Divided Country(2018), Pitch Battles (2020) and Dear Comrade President(forthcoming).

Khwezi ka Mpumlwana has been a social justice activist since childhood, brought up in kwaMpumlwana Halt in the Emboland region as well as in Dutywa, Mpumalanga and Diepkloof in Soweto on a diet of Congress and Unity Movement politics which led to his involvement in underground politics as a teen.

His schools included Sithangameni, Ngubethole Bam and St John’s College in Mthatha before he completed his schooling by distance learning. He has a BBibl and LDL in librarianship from the University of the Western Cape and a postgraduate diploma in Management from Regent Business School.  He has completed specialised training courses in countries as diverse as Singapore, Austria, Japan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, China and the USA. Currently, he is a final‑year MBA student.  After working at ERIP and the Mayibuye Centre, he was the Education Department manager at Robben Island Museum for five years (from late 1996 to 2001) before becoming the first CEO of the Nelson Mandela National Museum in Umtata from 2001 to 2012.

Thereafter, he joined the National Heritage Council. A co‑founder of the Liberation Heritage Route initiative and a lead participant in the first serial nomination of liberation heritage property for UNESCO’s World Heritage List, he is the director of Zenalia Consulting, focusing on innovation, heritage economics and South Africa’s liberation heritage.

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