Barbed wire fences and ominous towers became a tragic backdrop to life on Robben Island. At the time of my imprisonment, Robben Island was without question the harshest, most iron-fisted prison in the South African penal system. It was a remote and lonely island outpost for both prisoners and prison staff.
The racial divide on Robben Island was absolute. There were no black warders and there were no white [prisoners]. Warders demanded a master-servant relationship. There were no watches or clocks on Robben Island, we were dependent on bells and warders whistles and shouts as our time-pieces.
In the prison, the towers looked over us throughout the day. In this sketch I have attempted to pull together the two elements that overshadowed our lives for so many years: the towers and the ever-restraining barbed wire. The image shows the harsh reality that reminds me of our sacrifice and endurance, the use of more cheerful colours in this sketch is my way of presenting how we feel today.